Want to buy City land? Read this first

This vacant lot on Philadelphia Street is in a group of City-owned parcels being recommended for sale for eventual single-family housing.

New guidelines spell out important details, City officials say

COVINGTON, Ky. - Read before you call.
That’s the message the City of Covington is giving the public after adopting a process for the potential sale of some of the 150 or so parcels of land it owns.
With the Covington City Commission’s favorable vote this week, the City’s website now includes guidelines, an application form, and an inventory of property. The goal is to return parcels - where appropriate - to private use and contributing to “the public good.”
But City Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said it’s imperative that interested parties read the guidelines and understand the intent of the program - including what it’s not.
  • It’s not “free land.”
  • It’s not “homes for a dollar.”
  • It’s not “call and make an offer.”
  • It’s not an opportunity for real estate speculation.
  • It’s not a fire sale.
  • And it’s not an urgent effort by the City to get rid of everything it owns for the sake of the sale, i.e. cleaning house. 
Rather, the goal is to strategically find good uses for select properties that get them contributing to the surrounding neighborhood and working on behalf of taxpayers, Smith said.
“We want to realize the highest value for these properties that we can, and by ‘value’ I mean both purchase price and end use,” he said. “These are public assets owned by taxpayers, and we’re treating them as such. But we also want these properties to find beneficial uses again.”
The guidelines follow state law, which means that all of the properties will be formally appraised before any ownership changes, he said. All parcels and proposals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Spread throughout almost 20 neighborhoods, the properties run the gamut from vacant lot to rundown eyesore to hillside to decent fixer-upper to a sliver of land too tiny to do anything with.
Most of the land is vacant, and some of it is undevelopable. The plan is to group several parcels together as part of larger redevelopment efforts that will kick off with the City advertising for proposals.
The guidelines
The guidelines and inventory can be accessed through the Neighborhood Services Department page, HERE.
Over the last year, the City has sold or is preparing to sell a number of properties to different people or groups for different purposes and using a variety of methods, including sealed invitations for bid, a request for development proposals, a request for qualifications, and a straightforward purchase contract.
City officials used those deals to help create the process for future sales.
Under the guidelines, a Real Estate Disposition Committee would assess purchase proposals and make a recommendation to the City Commission based on a number of factors, including: 
  • The feasibility of rehab/redevelopment plans and their proposed public benefit.
  • Whether the plans create jobs.
  • Whether the new use for the property contributes to the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Whether it expands the City’s tax base.
  • The proposed purchase price.
  • The potential leverage of other investment.
“Again, we’re going to be very strategic and thoughtful about this,” Smith said.
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