City Partners with developer to rehabilitate historic homes on important West Central corridor

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News release from the City of Fort Wayne, dated May 26, 2011 – see the webmaster’s note at the end of this post:

City Partners with developer to rehabilitate historic homes on important West Central corridor
Mayor Henry continues commitment to neighborhood revitalization, housing stock rehabilitation

(May 26, 2011) – Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry today announced a unique opportunity to strengthen an important residential corridor in an older neighborhood. Continuing the City’s commitment to encourage public-private partnerships, the Mayor announced an effort to revitalize a block of homes on West Washington, addressing years of deterioration and neglect. Joined by developer Ric Zehr of Belay Corp., representatives of the West Central Neighborhood Association, and the Community Development staff, Mayor Henry announced the repair, rehabilitation and sale of four homes in the historic West Central neighborhood on a primary corridor from downtown.

The City is working with Fort Wayne-based Belay Corp. to purchase the four adjacent, dilapidated properties in the 800 block of West Washington Boulevard. They are currently owned by the City or Allen County. Belay applied to the City for federal funds and will obtain ownership and then sell the properties to owners who intend to live there.

Mayor Henry said the unique aspect of this project is the chance to address an entire block of neglected structures, something private investment alone has not been able to accomplish. “The City of Fort Wayne has become a model in how it creates public-private partnerships to invest in neighborhoods and corridors,” Mayor Henry said. “Because of this federal funding, we are able to direct dollars to an area that advances historic West Central, improves the aesthetics of a key residential corridor and preserves the historic character of the homes while providing the updates today’s buyers want.”

The first home should be complete by the end of this summer. The others will be finished within 12 months. The homes will be listed for sale with prices anticipated to be between $90,000 and $125,000.

Improvements and repairs to the structures will likely include new roofs, new heating and cooling systems, restored exteriors, restored hardwood floors, updated mechanical systems and updated kitchen and baths. The restorations will conform to the federal and local historic district standards.

Using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME funds, federal money will cover the difference between the sale price and the rehabilitation costs. The total project cost will be approximately $500,000, less the final sale price of the homes. The money that comes back into the program through the sale of the homes will be used for future projects to provide safe, affordable housing and improve local housing stock.

“These improvements and investments in our neighborhoods over the past couple of years would not have been possible without HUD dollars. Fort Wayne residents should be proud of how the City has leveraged federal programs while working with private developers and buyers to improve neighborhoods,” said Community Development Director John Urbahns.

Belay Corp. has worked with the City’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services in the sister Neighborhood Stabilization Program that rehabilitated vacant and foreclosed homes and sold them to buyers who made them their primary residence. NSP homes’ values increased an average of 65 percent after going through the program’s rehabilitation.

“The increase in property values for the rehabilitated homes lifts the values of nearby properties, plus by working with local companies, we are helping to put people to work. Homeownership is a significant driver of economic growth both locally and nationally yet strengthens neighborhoods,” said Mayor Henry. “It’s a win for us all.”

Because of federal funding requirements, the buyers will need to have a household income at or below 80 percent of area median income, which is approximately $50,000 for a family of four. Buyers will receive up to a $3,500 dollar-for-dollar down-payment match. The buyers’ real-estate agents will receive a commission of $6,000 or 6 percent of the sales price, whichever is greater.

Unlike NSP, where developers or buyers individually identified eligible homes, the City coordinated its efforts here with the West Central Neighborhood Association, which has considered this row of homes an ongoing eyesore.

“West Central is thrilled with this announcement from Mayor Henry and Belay Corp. The improvements to these four homes are more than just four addresses, but an improvement for the entire neighborhood and even the whole city,” said West Central Neighborhood Association President Charlotte Weybright. “We appreciate how the City, especially Neighborhood Code and all of Community Development, has worked to save and rehabilitate these homes.”

This Old House magazine named West Central the best Old House Neighborhood in the Midwest for 2010.

People interested in finding out more about the ownership potential for these homes should contact Belay Corp. President Ric Zehr at 438-0412.


Webmaster’s note I have several news releases from various organizations sitting in my inbox. Part of the mission of this blog is to keep a historic running record of the goings on in Fort Wayne. To that end, even though they are out of date, I am including this older news release.


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