Jonesboro has hired its first “land bank” manager. Jonathan Smith, a city planner in Jonesboro’s Planning Department, has been promoted to this position.
Smith, who helped develop the city’s land use and master street plans, will lead the city’s new initiative to acquire, manage, maintain and repurpose vacant and foreclosed properties and empty lots.
“This position is something other cities have used to reverse urban blight, increase home ownership and stabilize property values,” Mayor Harold Perrin said. “Jonathan has done an excellent job in our Planning Department, and our directors recommended him highly to me.”
Smith worked with residential and commercial projects within the city during his two years in the Planning Department, and is well versed in property transactions, examining both detail-oriented issues such as zoning ordinances and code regulation as well as the big-picture topics of healthy and safe neighborhoods, according to the city.
“This program is a special opportunity for the City of Jonesboro,” Smith said. “My goal is to see a tangible change in blighted areas of town. As this is a totally new position, goal No. 1 is to build the infrastructure of the department.”
Perrin is in the process of putting together Jonesboro’s first Land Bank Commission. Perrin spoke last year with directors of the Little Rock land bank and realized that a similar concept in Jonesboro could play a crucial role in preserving and revitalizing the city’s oldest neighborhoods, he said.