Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cincinnati may auction Walnut Woods

Tomorrow at 9 A.M., Cincinnati's City Planning Commission will hear a proposal to auction six properties that are part of a long-stalled Walnut Hills redevelopment project.

The properties, located at 838, 842, 844, 850, 854 and 856 Lincoln Avenue and commonly known as Walnut Woods, contain four single-family houses and two buildable lots.

The City acquired 12 units within the single-family development from Living Innovations in 1985, granting them to a private developer in 1990.

Five parcels were sold to individuals, with the additional parcels reverting back to City control following the developers' bankruptcy. Between 2005 and 2007, the City contracted for nearly $856,000 in work to stabilize and rehabilitate the four single-family houses.

Since then, the City has tried unsuccessfully to sell the properties, with the inability for prospective owners to obtain bank financing and prohibitively high rehabilitation costs making them a hard sell. Estimated rehabilitation costs are $360,000 apiece for 842 and 844 Lincoln Avenue; $120,000 for 838 Lincoln Avenue; and between $35,000 and $50,000 for 850 Lincoln Avenue.

The City hopes that the sale will rid it of high maintenance and holding costs and jumpstart the redevelopment. The City has invested nearly $3 million in the project so far.

The properties will be sold at auction for the highest bid, plus 10 percent. As a condition of each sale, covenants will require that each property be conveyed solely for rehabilitation or new construction (no demolition), a certificate of occupancy must be issued for all work within 12 months of execution of the deed, and the property must remain owner-occupied for five years following the issuance of a certificate of title.

Additionally, all rehabilitation or new construction must conform to guidelines of the local Lincoln-Melrose Historic District.

The City Planning Commission debated the sale at its March 2 meeting, disapproving after hearing from City staff, neighborhood residents, and Walnut Woods property owners.

If approved, the auction would be held June 9 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, during the 2012 Ohio Realists Association Statewide Conference.

Previous reading on BC:
Cincinnati will sell Walnut Woods house for $143K (11/3/09)
To boost homeownership, Cincinnati may sell Walnut Hills house for less (10/6/09)