MOUNT VERNON — As the Knox County Land Bank started to clear out formerly occupied homes it acquired in the East Ohio Avenue/Howard Street area — part of an east-side revitalization effort — what was “left behind,” so to speak, required quite a cleanup effort.
The land bank board of directors discussed some of those left-behind items during their regular meeting Friday, one description involving a home at 304 E. Ohio Ave., which Elite Janitorial Services cleaned out two weeks ago. Land Bank President Jeff Gottke said it cost $3,500 to clean out the formerly occupied home and all of its contents, including assorted household trash, furnishings, clothes, construction materials and debris.
“There were 59,000 pounds of trash taken from it, or about 30 tons,” Gottke said.
That works about to about $116.67 for every ton of trash Elite Janitorial took from the home.
Asked how he and workers were able to move through a home with so much trash, Gottke answered, “You couldn’t. You had to walk on top of it.”
As bad as the home looked with all the trash in it, land bank board member Tyler Griffith, a local Realtor, said he believes 304 E. Ohio Ave. is in good enough shape structurally, including its solid foundation, to be sold at some future point as a single-family home. Gottke said the East Ohio Avenue area has three or four historic homes, including one homeowner who is making great efforts to improve his property. But overall, the area suffers from “dis-investment,” he said.
Two other Land Bank-acquired homes close by, at 407 N. West St. and 504 E. Ohio Ave., also needed some serious cleaning. Taken out of 407 N. West were 24 beat-up mattresses, six couches and four recliners. The home, which the Land Bank has shown three times in hope of selling it, had been occupied by squatters who left interior conditions squalid.
“It was a drug house,” Gottke said. “The way you can tell is the windows were nailed shut.”
In other action on operational matters, the land bank board:
•Approved an expenditure of up to $5,000 for architectural renderings of what future buildings could look like for a potential buyer of the nearly 27-acre land bank-owned property on Madison Street. The property was formerly owned by Shellmar, a food packaging company. What the land bank has learned in advertising the property is that businesses are not interested in buying the property and having to construct a large 30,000 square-foot building on a large concrete footpad that still exists there, Gottke said. The renderings would develop several building concepts ranging up to 15,000 square feet.
•Heard from Gottke that in seeking a paid intern from Kenyon College, to be funded through a Kenyon-provided grant for interns, the successful search involved nine applicants and four interviews. The intern hired, senior Lucas Kreuzer, is an economic and political science major. Kreuzer recently presented an industrial history of Mount Vernon to the Knox County Historical Society. Among his intern projects will be an architectural inventory of the East Ohio Avenue/Howard Street area. “He is top notch,” Gottke said.
•Heard from Gottke that two adjoining small properties at 12346 and 12344 Howard-Danville Road have been demolished. The site, along with a small property, is land bank-owned property that will be turned over to the Knox County Park District to provide Jelloway Creek access to the Hellbender Preserve.
•Heard from Gottke that September Board of Revision action included foreclosure on Apple Valley lots 415 and 432, which have been tax-delinquent since 2005, and a property at 200 Pittsburgh Ave. The land bank may proceed on seeking to acquire those properties through Sheriff’s deeds if the delinquencies are not paid.
•Heard that a property at 505 N. Jefferson St. was sold to the neighboring property owner for $1, because the neighbor agreed to tear down the blighted property within six months.
•Heard that the land bank sold a Lakeview Heights property for $5,000.
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