Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Lambert, Mary Amelia (2016). Lots of Potential: Strengthening the Philadelphia Land Bank With Preservation. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Prolific vacancy in Philadelphia’s built environment is a major challenge as the city enjoys a resurgence in population and development. The creation of the Philadelphia Land Bank is widely seen as a necessary and useful tool to address the productive reuse of vacant properties. Preservation, however, is not a component of the land bank’s policies and procedures. This thesis asserts that the goals of the land bank are actually well aligned with those of preservation. It is an assertion that the inclusion of a preservation ethos along with specific policy measures would strengthen the activities of the Philadelphia Land Bank vis-à-vis the built environment, and the results could be enjoyed by a greater number of citizens. Through arguments linking land banking to sustainability, economic viability, and cultural heritage, this thesis makes the claim for preservation to positively impact the approximately 32,000 vacant properties that are spread throughout Philadelphia. By exploring partnerships across the country that other land banks have with local preservation organizations, case studies are presented on which to base recommendations for the Philadelphia Land Bank to offer creative solutions to the challenge of problem properties and too few citizen-led opportunities to revitalize the city.


land bank, preservation, Philadelphia, vacancy, rehabilitation



Date Posted: 25 August 2016