MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Land Bank Board of Directors took two actions Friday following a nearly one -hour executive session, one of them being to sell a home on East Ohio Avenue to the same applicant it had previously turned down.
That action was to sell a dilapidated home at 304 E. Ohio Avenue — that at one time had to have nearly 30 tons worth of trash and debris removed from it — to Bargain Homes. The land bank is selling the property and will earn $1,500 from the sale. Land bank President Jeff Gottke said the land bank will actually lose money because of how expensive it was to clean out the house and prepare it for viewing, which was about $3,000.
But Bargain Homes, which plans to invest $118,000 into the property in fixing it up, plans to sell it as a single-family residence once completed, he said. Bargain Homes, which applied to buy the property before, resubmitted a new application more to the land bank’s liking by meeting certain conditions before the sale is final. That process will take about six months and will include meeting specific guidelines for renovation before Gottke signs off on a final inspection and the sale goes through.
A similar procedure was followed with the former Elmwood Fire Station at 215 Ames Street in Mount Vernon before the land bank released the mortgage. The land bank can celebrate a bit, Gottke said, knowing the redeveloper — Kelling Properties — passed its final inspection “with flying colors.” Local officials were invited to a recent open house opportunity to view the former fire station’s conversion into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, which Gottke said involved adding two bedrooms and a second bathroom.
The home and property, which the city of Mount Vernon received a payment of $35,000 for turning it over to the land bank, has in turn been sold to a family, Gottke said. One of the former fire station’s two bays (garages) was turned into a living room area. The other is used as a two-car garage. The land bank received $5,000 for the work it put in on the property sale. Gottke called it the most successful example to date of how the land bank can get involved in property acquisition that involves reusing a still-viable property, one that — by converting it into a home — will start generating tax revenue for local government.
In its only other executive session action, the Land Bank board authorized Gottke to start the process of foreclosing upon what he said are more than 100 area properties that are part of an abandoned lands list. Some of the properties are lots, and some are land with homes on them. Now Gottke said he can go about the process of determining which ones make the most sense for land bank acquisition. All of the properties on the abandoned lands list are unoccupied, abandoned homes, which are also tax delinquent.