ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – There are 25 thousand vacant properties in Saint Louis. The City owns 12 thousand of them.

The City’s Land Czar Patrick Brown points out that the Land Reutilization Authority or LRA is the oldest land bank in the country and admits it’s not updated like other cities. He notes in Missouri, it’s very difficult to acquire properties.

“This is Missouri, and this is America. Property rights are sacred here. It’s very difficult to remove, at least for us, properties out of the hands of folks that aren’t taking care of them as they should,” he says.

Other large cities like Chicago and Kansas City already have plans in place to help decrease the number of vacant buildings. Brown says they have been working to make it easier both to acquire properties from the LRA in St. Louis, and offer resources to land owners to help maintain their properties.

Years ago, abandoned properties in Lafayette Square were sold for one dollar. The City says they still offer that program. While they do have auctions to purchase derelict properties, the response from potential buyers is mixed.

“We have been seeing, though, a real increase in the number of properties that are selling at auction. People are looking for a good deal and looking for an opportunity to build and rebuild,” says Mayor Slay’s press secretary Maggie Crane.

Crane says the City wants to make sure that properties purchased are in good hands.

“We want people who come in and have a real dedication to rehabbing these buildings and not just sitting on them, speculating about them, waiting for someone else to come along and buy them, and then they just sit in disrepair,” she says.

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