Flood damaged land is renovated, rebuilt

January 10, 2007

Albany -- New life could soon come to flood-damaged Albany areas that have been vacant for years. The city acquired more than 900 plots of undeveloped land in the south central and southeast Albany after the Flood of 1998.

The city put them on the market last summer, and about half of them have been sold so far.

Ever since the flood of 1998 washed away development near the Flint River in south Albany, much of land has been vacant. Some of it is in the floodway and not suitable for building, but at least 500 pieces of property can be built on within certain regulations.

"The city has traditionally waited until we receive a request from someone to purchase one of the properties that we owned. This summer what we did was publish all of the properties that were available for sale," said Community and Economic Development director Jennifer Clark.

Community and Economic Development director Jennifer Clark says since July about half of those properties have sold in groups. Much of it to developers who plan to put in residential housing or strip malls, growth the city can't rebuild alone.

"When that many properties are concentrated under one owner, it's very difficult for that one owner to work through all of those properties," said Clark.

The area is too big for the city to develop on it's own, and too costly to maintain and not sell.

The city pays a company to mow all the grass at all the flood lots on a regular basis. City manager Alfred Lott says it costs nearly $200,000 a year, so it will benefit the city to sell the remaining lots.

"It will reduce our costs associated with maintaining those facilities and those lots, and the money would go back into the budget of the community and economic development department, that's another another good thing," said City Manager Alfred Lott.

While developers purchase and build on the vacant land, the city can budget that money elsewhere, and residents also benefit.

"It also helps the city to enhance tax values, property values, have someone who lives as a resident in a neighborhood or business providing services to a neighborhood," said Clark.

As development gets underway the city hopes to have several new affordable housing complexes, and new businesses that will attract people to the south side of Albany.

The Community and Economic Development department has listed the remaining land from $900 to $20,000 depending on the size and location of the property.