Robert Rose Leads Cook County Land Bank Authority


Since its creation in 2013, the Cook County Land Bank Authority has worked hard to reverse the effects of the 2008 mortgage crisis by taking tax delinquent, vacant properties in south and west side neighborhoods and restoring them to useful purposes.

They’ve removed barriers that have existed for years in turning these properties around because they have the authority to quickly acquire them, eliminate all back taxes and fees associated with them, and offer them to people in the community to purchase and rehab at below-market to little cost.

A few of the CCLBA’s accomplishments thus far include:

• Rehabbing 500 homes that were once that vacant and tax delinquent, bringing down area home values and producing no tax revenue for local government services. These affordably priced homes are now in the hands of new homeowners or are in the process of being purchased.

• Generating nearly $33 million in new community wealth – i.e., home value for new homeowners.

• Being 100 percent self-funded with no taxpayer dollars used.

• Generating $23 million in revenue through property sales and grants, which is being re-invested in acquiring new properties and to cover all operational expenses.

N’DIGO recently sat down with Executive Director Rob Rose to learn more about the organization and what else it has in store.

Photo by Sam Cholke
N’DIGO: Tell us a bit about your education and professional background.
Robert Rose: I received my undergraduate degree in business from St.
Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. I received my MBA from The Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Pre-business school, I worked in the semiconductor and technology industry. Post-business school, my experience lies in real estate, banking, and community development.

For those unfamiliar, what is the Cook County Land Bank

It is a unit of Cook County government funded primarily with revenues from property transactions. CCLBA is the largest land bank by geography in the country and is governed by a Board of Directors chaired by Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer. The Board of Directors is appointed by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Can you give a few examples of some of the projects to help transform communities that the CCLBA has been a part of?
Sure. One that immediately comes to mind is the Washington Park
Bank Building located at 63rd and Cottage Grove. This building has been vacant for over 25 years. After acquiring the building, we engaged the Woodlawn community to determine future uses and incorporated those ideas into the Request for Proposal solicitation. We are currently working to identify a developer to rehab the bank building.

Washington Park Bank building. Photo by John Morris.

In your opinion, what are some additional things our communities can do to keep the momentum going once people purchase the rehabbed properties?
• Form or join the block club.

• Get to know your neighbors.

• Shop at local businesses.

• Hold your elected officials accountable.

How can those interested in being a part of the Cook County Land Bank Authority get involved?
Our website,, is a great place to start. The website has an interactive map to help people find and buy inventory. There is lots of information on our programs, news stories, and featured rehabs. People are also able to sign up to receive event notices and our newsletter. Of course, people are welcome to call us, at 312/603-8015.

Rose with Commissioner Bridget Gainer

What are three principles or ideals you try to abide by in your business dealings?
Integrity. Respect. Loyalty.

Can you name a book that changed or really impacted your

Family Properties by Beryl Satter has really impacted my work. This book offers a poignant portrayal of how race transformed Chicago and other urban cities. The work of CCLBA is to fight against the effects of these race-driven policies in our communities.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about

That I can be rather silly sometimes. Most people think I am
very serious all the time.

Best advice or words of wisdom for aspiring business professionals?
Do what you love not just what you are good at.

Favorite quote or affirmation?
“I can show you better than I can tell you.”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“I’d rather have it done right than to have it done fast.”

What’s next for Robert Rose and Cook County Land Bank

During my first three years, I worked to build a strong CCLBA team and execute a sound strategy for success. During the next three years, CCLBA is looking to ramp up activity to create more dynamic impact. We are expanding into acquiring larger, multifamily buildings as well more commercial and industrial properties. We are working on the policy front to expedite the acquisition of vacant property. We are continuing our work with the scavenger sale process.

(For more information on the CCLBA, visit

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