The Land Bank was originally founded in 2008, but only became an effective force for urban revitalization once it expanded and teamed up with multiple other organizations in 2014, according to Yasuyuki Fujii, a professor at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Fujii believes that Japan, which also struggles with rising numbers of vacant homes, could benefit from adopting the same model.
"In order to introduce Land Bank's structure to Japan, it is essential to establish a legal system to transfer ownership of abandoned land and tax-delinquent property to public agencies," he said.
In addition to residential properties, Land Bank has also sold land to urban farm projects such as RecoveryPark. The five-acre farm employs 14 people, hiring locals who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and providing services to help them get back on their feet.
"I think the more local you can make production, the better it is for you as a consumer (and) the better it is for your economy because you are creating local jobs," said RecoveryPark Chief Executive Gary Wozniak.
Urban agriculture has been especially helpful in the post-bankruptcy landscape of Detroit, as it puts otherwise vacant land to use while also strengthening community bonds, a key factor in reducing crime rates.
Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, whose company was the largest corporate contributor to the QLine and bought naming rights for $5 million, had already moved thousands of his employees from suburban offices to Detroit's central business district in 2010.
Through Rock Ventures, Quicken's parent company, Gilbert has since invested some $2 billion in a push to renovate the downtown area's empty commercial properties as the city seeks to lower its 7.5 percent unemployment toward the nationwide rate of about 4 percent.
Taro Futamura, an associate professor at Kyoto's Doshisha University, believes the policies and strategies fueling Detroit's post-bankruptcy economic recovery could be useful in Japan as well.
"Japan could see major investments if companies are assured with factors found in Detroit, such as easy access to young talent, proximity to mass transit systems and support from the local government," he said.
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