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Land Bank of Kansas City offers abandoned lots to neighbors at low prices

Ted Anderson, executive director of the Land Bank of Kansas City, underlined the value of the city’s dollar lot sales and the benefits for the community.
Ted Anderson, executive director of the Land Bank of Kansas City, underlined the value of the city’s dollar lot sales and the benefits for the community. jledford@kcstar.com

Kansas City residents living next to overgrown, abandoned lots — listen up. You might be able to make it part of your property for as little as $38. The Land Bank of Kansas City is selling them through the Side Lot Program for as little as $1 per lot, plus a recording fee.

Executive director Ted Anderson explains how it works.

Q. What is the Land Bank of Kansas City?

A. The Land Bank came about because of the mortgage crisis from 2007 to 2011. We saw that a lot of property in Kansas City was going to be abandoned. We had the Jackson County Land Trust run by Jackson County, and we saw the properties need extra care. We thought if it belonged to the city, we could handle the mowing and demolish the buildings if they needed to be demolished. It has been a bonus that we’ve been able to sell quite a few properties.

Q. What land is available and why?

A. We have about 3,000 vacant lots in the city that used to have houses on them. The houses were demolished in most cases by the city because they got to be in such bad shape. They were torn down as a public safety measure. The best use is to have the neighbors take them over as part of their yard.

Q. Can someone rebuild on the lots?

A. Most of these lots are in old neighborhoods. Back then, you could have a 25 foot lot with a house on it. These days, set-back requirements have changed and require a 10 foot set-back from the property line for construction. That is why the lots don’t work for housing anymore.

Q. How are people using them?

A. People are using them as gardens and play space. People can put playgrounds on them and stuff like that. We think it’s a good way to get those properties back on the tax role. Many times, people just want to clean up the lots, which have become overgrown and dumping grounds. The Land Bank has 5,000 properties to take care of. We take care of them as well as we can, but in most cases the homeowners can take care of the lots better than we can. In these neighborhoods where we own smaller lots, the homeowners have small lots, too. Their house usually takes over most of the lot. In this case, they get a bigger lot and a nicer lifestyle.

Q. What should someone do if they are interested?

A. The lots can only go to resident homeowners who live directly next to the lots. If that is the case, they could go on our website at kcmolandbank.org and see if the lot next to them is available. If the Land Bank owns it, there is an online application. They can also call the office at 816-513-9020. Our address is 4900 Swope Parkway.

Q. What kind of costs are involved?

A. It depends on how big the lot is. It is $1 for lots smaller than 2,500 square feet plus a $37 fee to record the deed. A medium-sized lot between 2,500 to 6,000 square feet costs $75 with a $37 fee to record the deed. If the property is over 6,000 square feet, the cost is 8 cents per square foot plus the $37 fee to record the deed. Owners will be responsible for property taxes after they purchase the lot.