Columbus starts to see results from anti-neighborhood blight land bank demolition program

Associated Press

Officials in Columbus say they're starting to see results from a land bank program aimed at reducing neighborhood blight.

The city has taken possession of nearly 1,000 properties, most containing homes and condominiums, since it began the program three years ago.

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About half the properties have been sold and about two-thirds of their structures demolished, the Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1EXmiGy ).

Columbus Mayor Michael Colman has targeted the elimination of blight, launching a 2012 program to go after vacant and abandoned houses in Columbus neighborhoods through enforcement, demolition, and restoration.

The 431 properties sold by the land bank since 2012 went for $2.2 million, even though they had a taxable value of nearly $17.5 million.

Officials say the properties' values should rise as new owners improve and maintain them.

People buying properties from the land bank are investing in the community, councilwoman Michelle Mills told the paper.

"Planting their feet more firmly in a neighborhood, that's a gain," she said.

Residents don't seem concerned about demolitions, because many rundown houses are crime magnets.

No residents have complained in the city's Linden neighborhood on the north side, said Donna Hicho, executive director of the Greater Linden Development Corp.

The land bank needs to continue to sell properties to people who have the ability to redevelop them, she added.

On the city's west side, resident Margaret Jordan would like to buy the empty land-bank lot next to her property to plant trees and flowers. A burned-out house used to sit there, she said.

"Vacant lots," she said, "are better than vacant houses."

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com