New Affordable Homes Going up in Milo-Grogan, City-Owned Lots for Sale
Affordable housing nonprofit Homeport has broken ground on the first of what will eventually be 33 new homes in Milo-Grogan. The single-family houses are being constructed on scattered lots east of I-71, on either side of East Fifth Avenue.
Meanwhile, the City of Columbus has issued a Request for Proposals for 23 city-owned parcels located south of Fifth Avenue and west of the freeway. Those vacant lots – the city has razed a number of deteriorating homes on them over the past several years – range in size from 2,600 to 8,400 square feet.
John Turner, administrator of the city’s Land Bank, said that his office has received lots of inquiries about the lots, from both developers and individuals looking to buy single parcels. He explained that the guidelines set out by the RFP don’t give preferential treatment to a developer over an individual.
“We allowed applicants to apply for any number of lots, including just one,” he said. “The RFP mentions homeownership projects to be a priority, but otherwise it will be up to a review committee to review the proposals and make the recommendations.”
That committee will be made up of city employees, a representative of the Franklin County Land Bank, and a representative from the community. Steve Schoeney, the Director of Development, will make the final decision on who gets the lots.
In addition to the new Homeport homes and the city-owned lots going up for sale, a third piece of news has some predicting that the neighborhood will see even more development activity in the future. The city in August approved a 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement for the neighborhood – it applies to new residential construction and large renovation projects.
“We took the lead on that,” said Jim Baugh, Homeport’s Vice President of Real Estate. “Part of the neighborhood had already had a tax abatement, but for some reason part of it was left out, so we kind of helped close the loop…and that was key to our project, but I think it’s great for any kind of development.”
The Homeport homes are being constructed in stages, about five at a time. Baugh said that the first ones could be completed by the end of the year. They will be lease-to-own, meaning that occupants will have the option to buy the homes after 15 years. Rents will likely be around $900 per month for a three-bedroom home, and would be available for people earning 60 percent or less of the area median income.
Homeport has a history in the neighborhood, having built 18 lease-purchase homes in the neighborhood over ten years ago.
“We want people to be successful, and we are always thinking long-term…we’re not doing a deal and getting out,” said Baugh. “Our mission is to provide affordable housing, and looking at Milo-Grogan, you had all the development in Italian Village and Weinland Park, and now this is kind of the next area…it’s so close to Downtown, people see that potential.”