Residents of the Chateauguay community began raising questions after the city placed “for sale” signs on a number of long-vacant lots in the neighborhood.
The lots, which the city bought between 1975 and 1984 because of flooding issues, were put back on the market earlier this week after a developer inquired about them, city spokesman George Talbot said.
Talbot said John Vallas, principal at Vallas Realty, showed interest in the properties and that triggered the city’s sale process, which included the placement of the signs and the placement of an advertisement in a local newspaper.
“It doesn’t mean he will be the buyer,” he said. “It just triggers the sale process.”
Vallas did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment for this story.
Because the properties were purchased initially with Community Development Block grants, the city is submitting a request for proposals for the lots, Talbot said. Proposals are due back by Thursday, May 2. The city is also in the process of getting appraisals done on the properties, but the average tax assessed value of the lots is $30,000, he said.
“We are in the process of getting appraisals for each lot prior to closing,” Talbot wrote in an email message. “The tax assessor should give a good estimate for pricing prior to those being finished. Any final sale will have to be approved by City Council.”
Some of the properties have been tagged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and can’t be sold, Senior Director of Neighborhood Development Jamey Roberts said. While the others are in a 100-year floodplain, Roberts said they have been told by developers that engineers can find ways to build on those properties.
Any sale would include a condition that what is built on the land reflect the neighborhood, Roberts said. Specifically, he said, the city would be looking for developers, or individuals who would build single-family homes on the lots. Despite being originally purchased with CDBG funds, Roberts said the lots would have no income restrictions if sold for fair market value. In other words, the structures built on the lots would be market rate.
There are no plans to change the zoning of the property from its current single-family residential status and the city would not support a change, Roberts said.
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