November 5, 2015

Kerri Renee Coumanis presented a program titled “By Brick, By Bateau, By Block: Land Banking.” She described it as a stepping stone toward neighborhood revitalization. Currently, Alabama is ranked #9 in America in protection of private property rights.
One of the biggest challenges to our community is the increase in tax delinquent and vacated parcels in our inner city. Since post World War II, urban renewal has been managed by the Mobile Housing Board. Much has changed since the Revised Alabama Land Bank Authority Act, which was passed in 2013.
In cooperation with the National Redevelopment Project, our local authorities, such as the Mobile Historical Development Commission, are working to put abandoned properties back into the free market. Ms. Coumanis gave several examples of success stories, which have helped regenerate entire blocks, because of removal and repair of blighted properties.
Her examples included 458 Chatham, which was originally built in 1876, 450 Charles Street and 906-908 Delaware Street. These were also good examples of public/private cooperation in obtaining funding. Restore Mobile, Inc., is working in partnership with the City of Mobile to encourage revitalization.
Interestingly, Ms. Coumanis spends a substantial amount of time on She related several stories about the hunt for ownership, and the challenges related to that search.
As of now, at least 46 properties have been positively affected by these programs in the last 2-3 years. A vivid example is the Old Shell Road corridor in midtown.