The City of Fort Thomas will buy the VA homes for $510,000 after the VA has agreed to a significant change on their end to allow the homes to be sold before the lead and asbestos in the historic homes are removed.
Fort Thomas City Council unanimously gave Mayor Eric Haas the authority to sign a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to purchase the ten vacant homes behind the city’s Tower Park after dismissing into executive session.
Dill told council that the deal was sent to council during the first week in October.
"I'm all smiles," said councilman Ken Bowman. "It's still a ways away, but we are moving in the right direction."
|VA Homes. FTM file.|
It's been 13 years of work since city council first began to try to acquire the now decaying buildings from the Veteran's Administration. The historic homes, once used to house army leadership near the city's military center, have become one of the biggest issues that face city council candidates as they face re-election in less than a month.
The properties have been vacant and have fallen into extreme disrepair.
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The city wanted to buy the properties, and then transfer the homes directly to a developer to renovate them, so that they would not be on the hook financially.
In trying to acquire the homes over the years, two "request for proposals" went unanswered, as many developers shied away from the price tag, uncertainty of the old infrastructure, which included abatement of lead and asbestos or both.
Ultimately, a change from the "request for proposal" to "request for qualifications" made it easier to identify one developer to take on the project.
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Bloomfield/Schon + Partners was one of two developers to show interest and the city set a July 1, 2016 deadline for having an agreement in place to purchase the homes. Two 90-day extensions were granted, which put the deadline to complete the agreement as January 1, 2017.
After the council meeting on Monday, council went into an executive session to discuss the new developments. The city is entering into a new agreement with the VA as they have eased up on some of their restrictions with regard to the lead and asbestos. The mayor signed the new agreement and council is positive that everything will move forward smoothly and rapidly, with renovations possibly beginning as early as the new year.
The homes will follow historical guidelines in the renovation process.
The city will maintain ownership of the street and the cul-de-sac. The costs to remove lead and asbestos will be abated to the tune of $510,000. There are still many question marks surrounding the project including electric and sewer infrastructure, and ultimately what the final cost will be to recoup the investment for the developer.
But for now, the city of Fort Thomas will celebrate.