COLUMBUS (WCMH) – In 2012 there were 6,284 vacant properties in the City of Columbus. That number dropped to 3,817 in 2017.
The Columbus Land Bank said it’s been targeting the worst-of-the-worst vacant properties with back-taxes and code enforcement violations over the last 4-5 years. It said it’s partnering with private businesses and non-profit organizations to help rehabilitate some of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.
“This home, we bought it from the land bank,” said owner of EyE Homes Inc., Esteban Saldarriaga. “It was a full-gut rehab. The house was in really bad condition.”
Saldarriaga and his wife, Erika, redevelop old real estate. One of their most recent transformations is 315 Wilson Avenue in Columbus. It took 15-18 months to renovate. They saved the 120-year-old home from being demolished.
“Most of the properties that we acquire are vacant properties that nobody’s living in them because we have a community-sense as well,” he said. “We want to help the community.”
The Columbus Land Bank said it has acquired 2,100 properties since 2012. 1,500 have been demolished since then.
“We are doing a lot of sales and a lot of activity in the core central neighborhoods where people are wanting to move back into,” said administrator John Turner.
He said they also had a record year in 2017 selling 310 properties, including structures and vacant lots.
“Even though we’re targeting the worst properties through Columbus neighborhoods, we’re finding a lot of people on the back-end who are able to take those properties and do really good things with them, with renovation,” said Turner.
Properties he said that were once havens for drugs and prostitution, now have a new life.
Turner said their goal is to bring neighborhoods back, while making sure they’re mixed income. To do this, they also partner with non-profits like Community Development For All People located on the southside.
“Increasingly, we are acquiring properties like 551 Stanley and fixing them up as long-term affordable rentals,” said Reverend John Edgar.
He said it’s important to make sure nobody gets forced out of their neighborhood, simply because property values are rising.
“Safe, decent and affordable housing is the key to ensuring that our families thrive and that’s at the core of our mission,” said Rev. Edgar.
The Land Bank said it’s especially targeting neighborhoods like North and South Linden, Franklinton, the Hilltop, southside and the near east side.