Land bank lauds Foraker renovation

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — The Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. (land bank) has acquired 65 properties since its inception.

Most of those — 47 of them — have been demolished. Four have been sold.

“While I was opposed to saving the house on Foraker, I stopped by there, introduced myself and got a tour. (The new owners) have opened it up. It’s going to look pretty darn nice,” said Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst during the land bank board’s regular monthly meeting, Dec. 4.

Doug Ahers, land bank director, reported that the corporation has been reimbursed $627,101 by the Neighborhood Initiative Project of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

According to the agency website, “The goal of the Neighborhood Initiative Program is to stabilize property values by removing and greening vacant and blighted properties in targeted areas in an effort to prevent future foreclosures for existing homeowners.” The program allocates funds to land banks and pays them from the allocations as reimbursements for properties the land banks acquire.

The Shelby County land bank will not be able to avail itself of its full NIP allocation, however, because it will not have acquired the necessary number of properties by the Dec. 18 deadline, Ahers reported.

“We will be allocated for all the properties we have,” he said. Some of the structures on those properties may cost less to demolish than the amounts that are allocated for them.

“I hope that means we’ll have some left in our allocation,” he added. The unused funds from all county land banks will go into a general pool from which all the land banks can request funds in 2019.

Ahers said the local land bank has several properties in various stages of foreclosure.

“Since the last meeting, we have acquired one unit, which may be sold. We are working on acquiring one additional property in the 500 block of North Main Avenue. We also have two units that may be donated,” he said.

Three other properties along North Main Avenue are scheduled for demolition, Jan. 2.

“I’m hoping when people see those open spaces, someone will start to think what it could be. Millennials like to live close to downtowns,” Ahers said.

Since the board’s November meeting, structures on properties at 10387 Seminole Trail, Lockington, and 305 S. Miami St., 534 Jefferson St., 118 Brooklyn St., 12414 county Road 25A, 412 Sycamore St. and 224-226 S. Walnut St., all in Sidney, have been demolished.

On Dec. 3, First Choice won a bid to take down eight more. In addition to the North Main Avenue structures, those eight include 825 Second Ave., 308 and 310 Lane St., 553 Culvert St. and 418 S. Highland Ave., all in Sidney.

“There are a lot of vacant lots that aren’t ours,” Ahers said. He reported that he had met with Kyle Havenar, vacant property inspector for the city of Sidney, and that they had exchanged ideas about them.

“Tax Ease had purchased tax liens. They purchased some that we were interested in,” said County Treasurer John Coffield.

Tax Ease is a Texas-based firm that pays property taxes for delinquent owners in exchange for liens on their properties.

In other business, the board discussed getting financial support from the city for a property on Walnut Street and the status of utility bills from the city for properties the land bank owns.

“We will be putting more houses out for bid as they are inspected,” Ahers said.

“People are learning more about what we do. We’re getting more inquiries,” noted board secretary Carol Meyer.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.