Community land trusts are flexible organizations that embrace diverse land uses to address various community needs. While the majority of CLTs currently focus on the development and stewardship of owner-occupied housing, some organizations have broadened their focus to emerging opportunities in non-residential development. The study examines non-residential programs and activities implemented by CLTs and focuses on the urban agriculture and commercial development sectors. Based upon case studies of 13 CLTs, this paper presents findings on: (1) the roles of CLTs in non-residential projects; (2) the benefits and challenges of non-residential projects for CLTs; and (3) implications for CLT practice.
The study found that CLTs are increasingly taking on a variety of roles and responsibilities in implementing and supporting non-residential development. In urban agriculture, CLTs have played the following roles:
- Securing access to land through a variety of land tenure arrangements including fee simple ownership, ground leases, deed restrictions and easements;
- Providing agricultural programmatic support;
- Engaging directly in agricultural production.
In commercial development, CLTs have taken on the following roles:
- Engaging in land acquisition, project development, and property management;
- Spearheading community engagement and advocacy efforts;
- Creating new commercial enterprises.
The benefits and challenges associated with these non-residential roles are discussed for urban agriculture and commercial development. Implications for improving non-residential CLT practice are also identified based on findings from the case studies. The study concludes that many opportunities exist for CLTs to expand into non-residential roles and that CLTs should focus on the management of land-based resources, rather than solely on the ownership of land to advance contributions in comprehensive community development.