Land Trusts Put Commercial Real Estate in Community Hands

A growing movement to create community-owned commercial spaces could shift power away from institutional landlords.

2 minute read

November 9, 2022, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Brick storefronts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fernando Garcia Esteban / Philadelphia storefronts

A community ownership model for commercial real estate could provide a way for neighborhoods to take control of local development and put resources back into the community rather than into the pockets of absentee landlords or investment corporations. Writing in Next City, Oscar Perry Abello describes the movement to put real estate ownership in community hands.

“In Alaska’s largest city, the Anchorage Community Land Trust acquired nine properties over the course of 2005-2011, using all private funding. The properties now house space for seven nonprofit organizations; a building that houses the CLT’s office and a training center and art studios for Alaska Native and American Indian artists; a restaurant; a credit union; and also the 28,000 square-foot Grow North Farm and farmer’s market.” In Philadelphia, “The Kensington Corridor Trust is one of several community-owned or community-led commercial real estate entities at various stages of formation and implementation across the country, and they’re starting to get more notice.”

“Ownership over commercial corridors is an important factor for the development of neighborhoods, but it hasn’t been the focus of as much policy as affordable housing or homeownership. Due to historic – and ongoing – barriers in access to credit or opportunities in commercial real estate, it’s common for commercial corridors in Black or Latino neighborhoods to remain in the hands of property owners who no longer live in those neighborhoods, if they ever did.”

According to a Brookings report, just 3 percent of Black households own commercial real estate, with an average value of $3,600 as compared to 8 percent and $34,000 for white households. Proponents of community ownership say it allows residents to determine how properties will be used and ensure that tenant businesses serve local needs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Next City

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Close-up of blue and white tsunami warning sign on coast in Monterey, California on gloomy day.

Washington State Requests Federal Funding for Tsunami Preparedness

The state’s Department of Natural Resources says it needs continued funding to map coastal areas at risk for tsunami impacts and prepare mitigation and evacuation plans.

February 27 - King 5 News

Overhead view of young children looking at plants growing in raised planter box.

Creating More Green Schoolyards in Los Angeles

Led by the Trust for Public Land, the “28×28” Initiative seeks to green 28 schools in Los Angeles by the 2028 Olympics.

February 27 - Spectrum News 1

Green Tempe streetcar with downtown Tempe glass building in background.

Opinion: Tempe ‘Diamond in the Rough’ for Walkability

One Arizona State University student urges peers to take advantage of the city’s growing public transit system to get to class without paying for costly parking.

February 27 - The State Press

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.