Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To boost homeownership, Cincinnati may sell Walnut Hills house for less

Cincinnati City Council is considering selling one of five vacant units at its Walnut Woods redevelopment project for below market value and without competitive bidding.

Appraised at $165,000 in a neighborhood where the median sale price for comparable properties is $130,000, a prospective owner has emerged with an offer to purchase 846 Lincoln Avenue in Walnut Hills for $143,000.

The prospective owner, the only person to express interest in the property during its many years on the market, plans to use it as his primary residence.

In a report to council, City manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says that the sale makes sense because it will increase homeownership in the City of Cincinnati.

"Unfortunately, the current depressed real estate market has resulted in the existing valuations of property being much lower than they were 12 to 24 months ago," Dohoney says. "It is also much more difficult for buyers to obtain financing to purchase a home. To increase home ownership within the City of Cincinnati, it is in the City’s best interest to sell the Property without competitive bidding."

Located in the Lincoln-Melrose Historic District and consisting of solid red brick houses built in the 1880s and 1890s, the 12-unit Walnut Woods development began in 1998 as a private redevelopment effort.

When that development failed, the City took over responsibility for rehabilitation and maintenance of the buildings, and has spent nearly $2.6 million on the project so far.

Six of the units are now owner-occupied, and one had to be razed due to advanced deterioration.

So far, the City has invested nearly $384,000 in 846 Lincoln Avenue alone.

The City Planning Commission approved of the sale on September 4, and the Walnut Hills Community Council has expressed its support.

"If the City were to propose a lease and/or rental component, it would have an adverse affect on the abutting property owners and require the City to fund ongoing maintenance and assume duties that would normally be the responsibility of owners," Dohoney says.

Previous reading on BC:
City of Cincinnati: GET TO WORK!!! (2/20/07)