City celebrates anti-blight program ‘graduates’

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Cutting the ribbon today were, from left, Rebecca Weber, senior sales executive at Huff Realty; Jeanne Schroer, president and CEO of The Catalytic Fund; Mayor Joe Meyer; Williams Sanderson, president of Urban Community Developers; Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith; Steve Tanner, of First Financial Bank; and Jill Morenz, director of Community Initiatives and Communications at The Catalytic Fund.

Ribbon cut on new Philadelphia St. single-family homes

 
COVINGTON, Ky. - A program started to return once-blighted property to productive use celebrated its first “graduates” today.
 
Covington officials helped cut the ribbon today on 954 and 956 Philadelphia St., two new single-family homes constructed by the non-profit redevelopment group Urban Community Developers Inc. on vacant parcels once owned by the City.
 
“This type of project is exactly what we had in mind when we started the program,” said Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith.
 
“We took two vacant lots that weren’t generating tax revenue and were actually costing the City money to maintain, we sold them for appraised value, and now we have two beautiful single-family homes that will not only bring new residents to Covington but will also generate tax revenue to support City services and schools,” he said.
 
A sales contract is pending on one of the homes, 954 Philadelphia. The listing for 956 Philadelphia can be seen HERE.

“Building homes on vacant lots in urban neighborhoods can be transformative for those neighborhoods,” said William Sanderson, president of Urban Community Developers. “It also brings housing opportunities to younger buyers and empty nesters who may prefer the convenience, comfort, and efficiency of a new home but want to live in a walkable, vibrant city neighborhood.”
 
Covington acquired the properties in 2007 as part of a blight removal program. In March 2019, the Board of Commissioners declared the lots and a nearby property on Philadelphia “surplus,” solicited proposals for their sale and use, and sold them in July 2019.
 
They’re the first finished products of the program, whose formal guidelines were written and adopted early last year.
 
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. All parcels and proposals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The guidelines follow state law, which means that properties are formally appraised before any ownership changes, he said.
 
About a dozen properties are in various of development, which for some means the construction of new, in-fill housing and for others the renovation of once-vacant buildings.
 
“We’re being very strategic about it, and we’re pleased with how it’s going,” Smith said.
 
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