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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ft. Thomas VA Homes Project: Details You Won't Get Anywhere Else


By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Reporter

Many people know what kind of economic impact this major acquisition from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and refurbishing would mean to the city of Fort Thomas.

The city recently made huge step toward that when City Administrative Official Don Martin drew up a two-year plan memorandum and presented it at a city council meeting in March. The hope is to see the 12.554-acre property in Tower Park that includes five single-family and five duplex homes occupied in the fall of 2015.

“The correspondence between the city and the VA is very professional and courteous,” Martin said. “The VA staff currently assigned to this project seems anxious to see it move forward. The biggest delays are a result of legal reviews at the VA.”

Once the project is completed, Martin and staff estimated property values will run between $6 and $7 Million. That would mean about $24,000 in extra property tax revenue to Fort Thomas and $48,000 in more tax revenue to Fort Thomas Independent Schools. Martin even noted $25,000 in payroll tax revenue could come during the construction process.

It is no secret the value of the property has depreciated over recent years. The property’s appraised value currently runs at $510,000 compared to $2,480,000 on July 25, 2007. The property has devalued by about 80 percent.

The plan noted the $510,000 value did not come via a re-appraisal. The value would be higher if the houses could be torn down, which is not permitted. That reduced the value of the property by $290,000.

The reason the homes can’t be torn down is because the property is included on the “National Register of Historic Places boundaries of the Fort Thomas Military District.” The memorandum noted the agreement between the city, VA and Kentucky Heritage Council “is to ensure the preservation of the historic integrity of the structures by preventing their demolition and applying Architectural Guideline for their preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of the exteriors of the buildings.” The memo said no restrictions came regarding renovating the interiors of the homes.

Martin and staff put together an estimated minimum bid of $903, 512 as compared to the previous minimum bid of $1,595,000 that did not result in any bids back in April, 2011. The deadline for those first bids was June 24, 2011. The memo said the city does not have to buy the property if it can’t find a purchaser.

The costs are broken down four ways. After the appraised value, the VA Administrative costs are estimated at $166,712 with the removal of hazardous materials estimated at $126,800 and $100,000 in the city’s administrative costs.

The city recently approved the documents and the signed Memorandum of Agreement was sent to the VA. The VA gave an estimated return of 90 to 180 days to approve the document. Once returned, the memo said the VA will let the city, possible bidder and subcontractors access to the buildings to be able to look for ways to execute their bid.

The memo also said the successful bidder must also execute additional steps. That includes communicating with utility companies facilities for things like water, gas and phone use.

Martin did note that the city will keep a part of the property as “park property.” That area is the center lawn area, behind the houses and the hill looking toward the river.

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