Cass County Blight Elimination Program to demolish eight structures in first round of funding

Cass County Land Bank Authority

Cass County Land Bank Authority

CASS COUNTY, Mich. - After a house was destroyed by a fire several months ago on Happy Drive in Cassopolis, it has become an invitation for danger for young people tempted to enter the building, and an eyesore for neighbors, but those days are numbered as this property is one of eight uninhabitable structures soon to be made useful again thanks to Cass County Land Bank Authority’s new Blight Elimination Program.

“An important part of our mission is to partner with local jurisdictions to not only clean up blighted property but to have the property returned to productive use,” said Cass County Treasurer Hope Anderson, who also serves as chair of the CCLBA.

In July 2022, House Bill 5783 appropriated $75 million to a statewide Blight Elimination Program, $21.5 million of which was designated to the state land bank authority for a competitive grant program to address blighted structures.

In March 2023, the state land bank authority awarded the County land bank authority $159,226.40 for the purpose of restoring blighted properties.

The statewide program guaranteed a minimum $200,000 allocation to each rural county through the duration of the program, meaning Cass County is guaranteed additional dollars in future funding rounds.

Funds can be used to stabilize vacant residential, commercial, and industrial buildings to secure them and protect against further deterioration, with the goal of preserving them for future rehab to purposeful use.

They can also be used to demolish vacant and blighted residential, commercial, and industrial structures that cannot be rehabilitated, and provide matching or gap funding for environmental remediation on vacant land, which is often a critical barrier to redevelopment

Round one funding paid for demolitions in Howard, Newberg, Wayne, LaGrange and Pokagon townships, as well as the villages of Vandalia, Cassopolis and Marcellus.

The Cass County Blight Elimination Program is the latest of the County land bank’s efforts to invest in the county economy.

“Blighted property has a negative effect on the surrounding properties; it lowers property values, makes it more difficult to sell properties and can pose an attractive nuisance to criminals,” Anderson said. “It may also discourage additional development in the area due to the fear of additional decline in the area.”

Additional blighted properties will be addressed in three future rounds of the program.

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