The City of Atchison is seeking property rehabilitation experts as part of a new REDO Atchison initiative.
City staff is looking to create a database of rehabbers that can potentially take run-down, vacant houses and get them back into circulation in a positive way. The initiative is a response to two issues facing the community – lack of quality housing options and declining neighborhood property values.
“We have a real shortage of high-quality housing at all levels in our community,” Atchison Director of Administrative Services Joe Warren said. “We desperately need more quality housing right now.”
Warren said the City was seeking out vacant housing specifically for this project. He said vacant properties were precursors to a number of issues that can have a drag on neighborhood property values – beginning with blight but also including increased crime rates.
“They are like missing teeth,” Warren said. “When one house is blighted and has to demolished, it creates a hole, which can have a downward drag on the rest of the neighborhood.”
The REDO initiative will take vacant properties through the Land Bank, wiping any back taxes and assessments from the tax rolls. Then the properties will be marketed, with interested rehabbers having a chance to walk through the property and make an educated determination as to what it would take to get that property fixed up.
From there the City will take proposals from the rehabbers in a bidding process, with selection criteria based on the best final product – while also considering historic restoration factors for older properties.
The winning bidder will then be given deed to the property – with only a few administrative costs attached.
“Hopefully, if we can minimize the acquisition costs on these properties, that will eliminate a barrier that rehabbers would otherwise face when trying to make these projects profitable,” City Manager Becky Berger said. “The private market hasn’t been able to fill this need, so we are just trying to provide a little boost.”
Rehabilitation experts can be contractors or anybody with a history of performing remodel work under a timeline.
“They’ll need to submit a scope and timeline with their proposal,” Warren said. “And if they don’t follow their own plan, the City would have the right to reclaim that deed and restart the process with another investor.”
The City already has one property lined up as a test case to see how well the program works. The house at 401 N. 9th St. was purchased through the Sheriff’s Tax Sale and currently is in the Atchison Land Bank.
“We’ve got a few hundred dollars into it,” Warren said. “All we would ask from a potential rehabber is to cover those costs and if the end result works out, we will see a potential stimulus in that property rather than a drag on neighborhood values.
“This isn’t a direct revenue source for us, we just want to stabilize property values in neighborhoods that could use stabilization.”
For more information please contact Joe Warren at (913) 367-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.