Sunday, May 16, 2010

CITY HALL: Makes big land buys in First Ward

COLUMBIA, 5/16/10  (Beat Byte) --  Columbia City Hall is buying distressed property in the First Ward, partly with help from Federal and State stimulus funds.   
Monday night, Columbia City Council members will move to purchase houses and land at the corner of North Garth and Sexton Avenues, around the proposed site of a controversial but ultimately failed grocery store/apartment development affiliated with Grace Covenant Church.  
Using funds from a so-called "Neighborhood Stabilization Program," City Hall is offering to buy a large parcel on Garth Avenue, along with 106, 108, and 110 W. Sexton for roughly $39,000;  102 E. Sexton for $33,000; and later, parcels at 13 Forest St. and 904 Madison -- all apparently in foreclosure.  
A city staff report is vague on plans for the Grace Covenant properties.  "One project is under consideration," the report says, though it doesn't describe the project.  The land may also be "banked" for up to 10 years.
B108-10 Authorizing agreements to commit Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding
City Hall is also offering to buy the last house next to Douglass Park.  Homeowner and landlord Pauletta Gresham -- who owns 413 N. 5th Street -- contacted the city offering to sell for what she says is appraised value -- $67,000.  Gresham owns other properties on nearby Rogers Street.  City Hall demolished another home next to the park in 2007, and apparently has eyes for other land around both Douglass and Field Parks. 
"The Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan identifies a number of lots adjacent to both Douglass Park and Field Park and targets those lots for potential acquisition, provided they become available for purchase from willing sellers," the staff report says, apparently ruling out eminent domain.  

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