MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Land Bank board members heard an update Friday concerning three dilapidated single family homes that were set to become land bank property on Monday.
The homes, at 505 N. Jefferson St., 244 Newark Road, and 304 E. Ohio Ave. in Mount Vernon, had been significantly behind on their property tax payments in addition to being in a serious state of disrepair, Land Bank President Jeff Gottke informed the board. The properties had been through a prior Board of Revision hearing, which was followed by a “Right of Redemption” period. The 28-day period gave each property owner a chance to pay back taxes owed to keep their property, Gottke offered.
That period expired Monday, giving Gottke the opportunity to take the property deeds to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to sign them over as sheriff’s deeds. He did so and then took the deeds to the county recorders office, where they were recorded as becoming land bank property.
The properties were acquired by the land bank at no cost other than paying court costs, Gottke said. The property at 304 E. Ohio Ave. has in particular been an “eyesore,” he said, and is to be cleaned out before demolition. The city of Mount Vernon has previously condemned the property.
The land bank has also recently taken possession of a property at 504 E. Ohio Ave. through a purchase of close to $15,000. It has been cleaned out and is likely to be demolished.
“I think there are better things coming for Ohio Avenue,” Gottke offered, and said that it involves economic development.
Gottke said the neighbor to the 505 Jefferson St. property has agreed to buy the dilapidated home and keep it as a vacant lot once the land bank tears it down. That may take considerable time as the land bank does not presently have demolition funds, but is waiting on federal funds to be made available, which would cover half of demolition costs.
The property at 244 Newark Road, meanwhile, appears “salvageable,” Gottke offered, meaning it can be offered for sale by the land bank. Land bank board members including President Teresa Bemiller have said they wish to offer salvageable homes to first-time home buyers, with an agreement and timeline for how they will fix up their property.
In other matters Friday, Gottke gave an update about this Friday’s deadline for applicants who are submitting proposals to purchase 1375 Newark Road. The property on 6 acres, with about 35,000 square feet of building floor space, is the current home of New Hope Industries, Inc., which has been given until April 15, 2020 to vacate the property.
Referencing the as of yet undisclosed applicants, which county officials have expressed will likely be Mount Vernon Industrial Park occupants, Gottke offered, “The ones that we thought are coming through (are).”
Asked Monday how many applicants will turn in plans for their “highest and best use” of the property, he said it would likely be less than five applicants. They are required to offer a price in addition to specific plans and a timeline of how they will improve the property while providing jobs to the area workforce. The land bank board will make its final decision on which application to accept on Aug. 30, and during the process will receive scores on each proposal received from the Area Development Foundation, which manages daily land bank operations through a contract.
NHI, which serves clients with developmental disabilities, has been a sub-leasor on the property since 2007 from the county Developmental Disabilities board, which in turns has leased the property from county commissioners. NHI has subleased the property for $1 a year, a sublease that was not renewed in April of last year, according to commissioners.
Also Friday, the land bank board was informed that:
•Inquiries are being made to Kenyon College about the possibility of a paid intern position, which is paid by the college, assisting land bank daily operations at the ADF office.
•A land bank-acquired property at 407 N. West St. is being cleaned out, as it is not yet known if the home is salvageable for future sale. If not, the demolition will be carried out and the lot will be sold.
•A land bank acquisition has been completed to purchase a property on East Street in Howard for $5,000, which is next to two other properties at 12344 and 12346 East St. that have been acquired through the state’s forfeited lands list. Once those two properties have utilities disconnected, they will be torn down. The property is to become a lot owned by the Knox County Park District, which will offer on-street parking area access to the Hellbender Preserve along Jelloway Creek.