A local developer and residents along Durande Drive have begun pushing back against a deal that would allow the city to sell property to residents in the Delwood neighborhood.
John Vallas, principal at Vallas Realty, said he had a deal with the city to purchase 3.4 acres to build 12 to 15 single-family homes in an effort to revive the street. He described the structures as “patio homes.”
“Durande residents want to see new homes built,” Vallas said. “They want to bring new life to the street.”
According to Vallas, there has been some misinformation reported by neighbors in the area. He says there have been “inaccurate” claims of him wanting to put apartments on the lots. Vallas did say he considered townhouses for the property at one point but ultimately decided against it.
“As I got deeper into that plan, I realized the residents were opposed to the density,” he said. “So, I decided to build single-family homes.”
Patio homes are similar to townhouses, as they typically share a wall with other residences; however, the density is less because they only have one floor, according to a realtor.com definition.
Vallas also questioned why the city never put out a request for proposals once there were multiple offers on the table. He said the city has been inconsistent in this regard in the past. He referenced the recent sale of the Ashland Place fire station, which went through an RFP process.
“I still feel the best use for the property would be for development of single-family homes, which would greatly help the area,” Vallas wrote in an email to Lagniappe.
The City Council agenda item concerning the sale of the property to Vallas was held over until April 16, he said. In the meantime, a group of Delwood residents has teamed up and offered the city $38,000 — the appraised value — for the property. Councilman Joel Daves, who represents the area, was in favor of the sale to the neighborhood.
“I think it’s a good outcome for the city,” he said. “The city gets the property off the books, the property can stay (residential) forever and the citizens get to extend their backyards.”
Per its own rules, the City Council delayed a vote on the sale to the neighborhood until its Tuesday, April 2 meeting.
Carl Dekle, president of the Delwood Neighborhood Association, did not want to comment on the plan. The neighborhood does have a change.org petition with more than 220 signatures from people opposed to development of the property.
Jeremy Neff, whose home is across the street from the property in question, said he is concerned about where the sale is headed and is in favor of Vallas winning the bid.
Neff, who lives in one of the 19 homes on the street, said he favors the building of more homes there, rather than allowing residents of another neighborhood to extend their backyards.
Another issue for Neff is that he was not notified about the property being for sale until his wife talked to Councilwoman Bess Rich about it while the District 6 representative was researching the possible sale. He later received a letter from a resident about it.
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