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City officials have asked the state for permission to form a land bank to help address vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties. | Last week, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards announced that the city had submitted a formal application to Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency. The application proposes creating the Rochester Land Bank, a nonprofit corporation that would be operated by the city. A state law enacted in 2011 allows a limited number of local governments to set up land banks, pending state approval. | Land banks have more leeway than governments to acquire and transfer properties. | The application says the Rochester Land Bank would take title to approximately 25 vacant, abandoned, or underutilized houses each year for the first two years of operation. It would supply the houses to HOME Rochester, a Greater Rochester Housing Partnership program that rehabs vacant single-family properties and sells them to first-time buyers. | A press release from the city says that a typical house demolition costs the city about $25,000. A house can be rehabbed through HOME Rochester for less money, officials say, and doing so puts the property back on the tax rolls.

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