Case Study
Oct 3, 2023
Case Study
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October 3, 2023

Waterbury Land Bank Case Study

Strengthening Waterbury, Connecticut with eProperty Innovations Consulting and ePropertyPlus

The Waterbury Land Bank (WLB) is focused on improving the quality of life for its residents by revitalizing distressed properties, promoting economic development, and advancing community improvement efforts. Nancy MacMillan, its Executive Director, is converting WLB’s strategic vision into real results with the help of the eProperty Innovations consulting team and ePropertyPlus software. 

The Opportunity:

Waterbury had made a commitment to establish a unique land bank that catered specifically to the strengths and attributes of the city. They wanted something that was tailored to their needs, rather than a standardized approach. Additionally, Waterbury sought a partner that could efficiently reactivate properties with agility, surpassing the city's capabilities. The city's leadership envisioned the land bank as an integral component of their ongoing community revitalization efforts.

While they had seen examples of land banks in New York, Waterbury lacked the local expertise to operationalize their own. The community leaders selected to head the land bank board were new to the concept of land banking and community revitalization in general. It was crucial for the land bank to find an advisor to support its community and economic development initiatives.

The Selection:

  • The unique aspects that eProperty Innovations brought to the table:
  • Deep knowledge and experience of Connecticut land bank legislation
  • Wide pool of "best practices" to draw on from experience standing up other land banks
  • Existing, positive relationships with the City of Waterbury staff

 Key Benefits:

  • Organize & leverage data
  • Streamline operations
  • Automate complex processes
  • Identify development opportunities
  • Promote collaboration & public engagement

The Solution:

 Our overarching goal for supporting the Waterbury Land Bank was to come alongside their team to create a deliberate approach that would establish a solid foundation, maximize their resources, and develop stakeholder confidence.

After being selected, eProperty Innovations successfully:

  • Provided training on land banks and land banking to the committee
  • Helped draft the enabling ordinance required to create the land bank under Connecticut's state law
  • Drafted comprehensive policies and procedures for property, procurement, and operations
  • Created a budget and budget estimating tool for planning and forecasting
  • Worked with counsel to create a Memorandum of Understanding between the land bank and the city to facilitate property transfers
  • Contributed to filing of the 501c3 application and other filings
  • Led the search for the land bank's first Executive Director and subsequent staff and contractors
  • Created training and orientation materials for the board and staff

In addition to the extensive consulting relationship eProperty Innovations built with Waterbury Land Bank, we were also able to harness our agile eProperty Plus software to facilitate their revitalization initiatives. We configured eProperty Plus for Waterbury Land Bank so that they could add their collected housing data directly into the software to make property evaluation and decision-making more efficient. 

The ePropertyPlus mobile application has been very helpful during property inspections and enables our vendors to effortlessly input property data into our system."

- Nancy MacMillan, Executive Director, Waterbury Land Bank

The Impact:

Asa result of partnering with eProperty Innovations and adopting ePropertyPlus software, the Waterbury Land Bank gained a significant advantage over newly formed organizations that often grapple with data management and DIY systems.

We have been able to boost the capacity of the client's small staff by automating repetitive tasks and organizing their property data- which is, in turn, saving them time, increasing their efficiency and accountability, and improving their ability to serve diverse audiences and stakeholders.

One of the primary challenges facing the land bank was outdated and missing data. To address this issue, the land bank undertook a ConditionsAssessment initiative to update their data and were then able to input their city's information directly into their ePropertyPlus software. This new data in combination with the powerful tools built into ePropertyPlus provided the staff and board with essential information to support strategic decision-making. This data-driven approach empowered the land bank to make informed choices on which properties to pursue and why.

During their first year, the land bank staff diligently updated the ePropertyPlus property records with current information on code violations, unpaid taxes, and property occupancy status. To further enhance their capabilities, they harnessed the power of ePropertyPlus's native GIS mapping for data visualization, utilized the mobile app for efficient field inspections and seamless data collection and photo uploads, and leveraged the public site as a platform for property marketing and online application acceptance.

When the Waterbury Land Bank commemorated its first year of operation in June 2023, it stood out as a well-established organization, staffed by highly competent professionals and led by a board with a clear sense of direction and purpose. Fred Lueke, Chairperson of the Waterbury Land Bank and a former Alderman, affirms that the board and staff felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and confidence when celebrating this milestone, as they were truly "up and running."

Results - One Year In:

Perhaps the most important result of Waterbury Land Bank's efforts in their first year is that the bank staff feels strongly positioned to pursue property acquisitions.

Notable achievements during their first year include:

  1. Establishing a strategic plan
  2. Appointing a professional office location
  3. Hiring an Executive Director and support staff
  4. Securing donations from the Harold Webster Smith Foundation and Liberty Bank Foundation
  5. Completing their first program, a condition assessment of 287 properties
  6. Refining their GIS mapping system for properties under analysis
  7. Acquiring 10 city-owned properties

In contrast to numerous similar organizations that have faced obstacles and experienced stagnation, the Waterbury Land Bank has excelled by fostering successful partnerships throughout the city, engaging in thoughtful outreach, and effectively utilizing the robust property data management tools offered by ePropertyPlus to inform their decision-making process.

The successful implementation of ePropertyPlus has allowed theCity of Waterbury and its land bank to optimize their property data management, maximize efficiency, and make well-informed decisions that benefit the entire community. They also continue to benefit from having eProperty Innovations consultants on retainer to support them as they grow and reactivate their properties.

Waterbury Land Bank is already making great strides to start off their second year of operation - laying the groundwork to accept their first five donated properties from the private sector. And after their successful acquisition of the initial 10 properties from the City of Waterbury, they plan to request another 12 properties.