City Buys 8 West Central Properties To Be Redeveloped (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose - 21Alive

March 6, 2014 Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 7:23 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – City leaders just bought eight dilapidated properties in the West Central neighborhood as a way to stabilize the area.

Here's Corinne Rose to explain why they think it will work.

These rental properties need so much work that private owners would never get their money back.

So the city stepped in to buy them, using half a-million dollars of use-it-or-lose-it federal grant money to preserve the homes' historic nature and stabilize the neighborhood at the same time.

“When you look at what these houses contribute to the character of the neighborhood and the stability of the blocks that they sit on, they're very important components," says Heather Presley-Cowen of the city’s division of community development.

The city will hold developers to historic and energy efficient standards as they revamp the properties and make sure they get back on the market at reasonable rents for the community.

In fact, city inspectors will visit each site weekly to make sure that's done.

It may seem counter-intuitive to want to develop properties as rentals instead of owned homes to stabilize an area.

But Presley-Cowen says that's not necessarily true.

"Not everyone wants to own these days. After the downturn, we found a lot of people in the credit crunch who couldn't get loans. But we also find that a lot of the millenials, who are the younger folks coming on board in the community and starting to move out on their own are not interested in owning, either," Presley-Cowen says.

But they do want to be near downtown, which means the West Central neighborhood is becoming even more desirable.

In fact, Presley-Cowen says her office is already getting calls from people who want to rent once the properties are ready.

The city hopes to have developers express an interest in properties like these and purchase them within the next 90 days, and then 90 to 120 days after that, have these properties be developed and ready to go.

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