In yet another effort to increase the local housing stock, members of the city’s Redevelopment Commission this week struck a deal with a local contractor interested in building infill style homes on empty lots throughout town.
Over the last three years, city officials have looked to eliminate blight by razing eyesore homes. The efforts were funded primarily through the state’s Hardest Hit Blight Elimination Fund.
What remains, however, are dozens of empty lots scattered throughout the city. Some have been handed over to neighbors willing to take care of them. Others, however, have been temporarily placed into the hands of the RDC.
Matt Hendrixson, a local contractor, wants them.
He went before members of the RDC during their regular meeting Thursday morning requesting three of the dozen or so empty lots the RDC is currently holding, specifically, 1225 Perry St., 1203 Ridgeway Ave., 513 State St.
Operating as First City Development, Hendrixson wants to build homes on them, homes respectful of the existing houses around them, he told the RDC.
“I want to make them blend in with what is already there,” he said.
His intent, he added, would then be to sell them, not hold them as rentable property.
And as he’s shared his plans with others in the community, several, he said, have already come forward wanting to buy.
He’s hoping to start building this spring, he told the RDC; with several legal hoops to go through to transfer the properties into his name, it would likely be spring before the RDC can get the lots to him anyway.
But RDC members were excited to hear of his plans.
“I know I spoke with you about this years ago,” RDC member and city councilman Marc McNeece told him. “I know you’ve been wanting to do this, so I’m happy for you.”
“This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Hendrixson told the RDC. “And this is a way for me to get my feet in and start building, go from there.”
RDC members have for months been looking for ways to incentivize developers to build new homes, believing there to be a shortage, especially in the mid-range market.
This fall, members committed $218,000 in infrastructure costs associated with about 14 homes Sure Clean Inc. is looking to build in an area of Hart Street.
A representative with Sure Clean on Thursday said the company was looking to rezone portions of the property, set soon to appear both before the city council and the Area Plan Commission.
They hope to get started this spring.
The RDC, too, months ago approved a gift of $342,000 to three local families operating as REM Development Group planning to convert the floors of the Oliphant building into condominiums and build new residential and commercial space on the adjacent Gimbel Corner at Second and Main streets.
The RDC is also also considering a much larger project being proposed by Butch, Eric and David Niehaus for about 129 homes on Quail Run Road.