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27 properties ID’d in Goshen economic plan

GOSHEN — Goshen Redevelopment Commission members Tuesday approved an amendment to the economic development plan for the city’s Consolidated River Race/U.S. 33 TIF District. The amendment identifies 27 additional, generally blighted properties in the district which commission members hope to eventually purchase and redevelop as part of future city projects.

“This is basically the last step in adding these as properties that we can acquire,” city attorney Larry Barkes said of the request, noting that not all properties identified in the economic development plan will end up being purchased by the city. “If you’ve ever looked at our list, you’ll find that there were several properties that got listed that we never acquired because of the way the design occurred or other things that happened.”

That fact appeared to assuage at least some of the apprehension shown by Anita Shannon, a concerned Goshen resident whose home at 708 E. Lincoln Ave. is one of the 27 properties included in the approved plan amendment.

COMMUNITY CONCERN

“I’d like to know what happens if I don’t want to move from my home?” an agitated Shannon asked the commission’s members Tuesday during a public hearing on the matter.

In response, Barkes did his best to clarify that just because a property has been listed in the plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the city will take possession of it.

“So your property is being included in that list of things that might happen,” Barkes said of the amendment. “Some of these we’re looking at, and looking to acquire. Some of these we may never acquire. And I can’t tell you which group your house is in. That will be up to this group of people, and people probably succeeding them, to make those particular decisions.”

Barkes did note that should it become necessary, the city does have the authority to use eminent domain to take ownership of a property, though he explained that such action is typically quite rare in the scheme of things.

“But that’s not even necessarily what we’re suggesting right now,” Barkes added of the amendment. “We’re just including them so that if you put your property up for sale, we may be interested in acquiring it. We may approach you at some point in time to say, ‘OK, here’s what we would be willing to buy the property for,’ and have those conversations. Those kind of conversations will occur before we start any kind of eminent domain process, and I’m not saying that we will ever start an eminent domain process with respect to any of these properties.”

Commission president Tom Stump offered a similar sentiment.

“It basically tells you if you want to sell that property, or your neighbors want to sell their property, we’re interested in buying it,” Stump told Shannon. “That’s part of the deal.”

For his part, Goshen resident Paul Hapner, whose home at 704 E. Lincoln Ave. is also included in the plan amendment, questioned the commission about what plans the city has for the targeted properties, as well as what kind of time table they may be looking at for beginning that work.

“I haven’t seen any plans or anything of what kind of improvements or whatever you’re going to do,” Hapner said during the public hearing. “I was wondering where I could see those at.”

Barkes noted that while the city’s plans for the area are still in the early stages, two primary projects have been identified for the corridor.

“One is the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Olive Street, and the other is the intersection of Lincoln and Steury avenues,” Barkes said of the plans. “Both of those intersections are planned to be improved, which will impact some of the houses that are listed in this group.”

According to Mark Brinson, community development director for the city, work on the two intersection improvement projects is set to begin sometime in 2020.

“Generally, once we get a little further in design, we would notify the residents, and you can come in and see the plans and ask questions,” Brinson added of the city’s plans. “We’re just a little ways away from that.”

TARGETED PROPERTIES

Of the 27 properties identified in the plan supplement, 12 are listed as being located in what has been designated Area 1, while the remaining 15 are listed as located in Area 2.

According to the plan supplement, Area 1 consists mostly of properties located along East Lincoln Avenue that are being targeted for demolition in order to facilitate the construction of road improvements on Lincoln Avenue from the railroad to the city’s eastern limits, including intersection improvements at Lincoln and Steury avenues.

“The estimated cost of the real estate acquisition and demolition of structures is $500,000,” the plan supplement states of the Area 1 properties. “The price to be offered to acquire the real estate may not exceed the average of two independent appraisals of the fair market value of the real estate.”

A sample of the Area 1 properties identified in the plan supplement includes: 622 E. Lincoln Ave.; 624 E. Lincoln Ave.; 700 E. Lincoln Ave.; 702 E. Lincoln Ave.; 704 East Lincoln Ave.; 708 E. Lincoln Ave.; 710 E. Lincoln Ave.; 921 E. Lincoln Ave.; and 102 Olive Street.

As for the 15 properties making up Area 2, they are connected primarily to the former Ozinga Ready Mix property located in the 1000 block of Lincolnway East.

The list of Area 2 properties identified in the plan supplement includes parcels along Egbert Avenue, Reynolds Street, U.S. 33 and Lincolnway East.

“The commission proposes to acquire the following parcels of real estate, demolish and remove the structures and improvements, conduct environmental studies, and construct any public infrastructure improvement necessary or desirable to promote the private redevelopment of the Ozinga Ready Mix real estate,” the plan supplement states. “The estimated cost of the project is $950,000.”

OTHER ACTION

In other action, commission members:

• Authorized a change order adding $47,970 to construction costs for the Northwest Bike Trail project. The change order was requested following the discovery of an additional 820 cubic yards of topsoil in need of replacement found during grading of the trail route. According to project consultant Lawson-Fisher Associates, the soil was missed during early testing and thus wasn’t included in the project’s initial cost estimates.

– 27 properties ID’d in Goshen economic plan

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