One year ago exactly Scioto County formed the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank). Now, one year later, the first house came down Tuesday morning.
“It’s pretty interesting – the first scrub of property took place on the Thursday of the NCAA tournament last year – so in one day short of a year the commissioners were able to start the land bank and demo a house,” Scioto County Port Authority Director Jason Kester said. “Pretty impressive.”
Now before the major demolition project ends, the Land Bank will have received $2.725 million from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) through the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP). That program got off to a crashing start Tuesday morning when Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Bryan Davis took the controls of a track Hoe and ripped the front off a house at 1655 Eighth St. in Portsmouth.
“I practiced some yesterday (Monday) moving some dirt piles, and I didn’t destroy anything other than the dirt piles,” Davis said. “What’s really cool about this is the idea is to tear something up, so I can do this.”
On a chilly Tuesday morning, officials from all branches of the regional governments including Michelle Throckmorton and Angie Malone, director and assistant director, respectively, of the Land Bank were also on hand as well as officials from the state including OHFA.
Davis donned a construction vest and a hard hat and mounted the track hoe. Minutes later the house began to crumble. When he was finished, he turned things over to Solid Rock Construction to do the monster portion of the work.
Davis said the entire process began with a $30,000 grant from the Scioto Foundation through the Scioto County Port Authority (SOPA).
“I’m excited to see the Scioto County Land Bank program off to a good start with this first problem property being demolished,” Portsmouth Mayor and Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb said. “I think that the city has moved about 17 pieces of property to the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation. I believe that this joint city/county/SOPA venture will prove to be a valuable tool for improving our neighborhoods by removing blighted houses and for providing opportunities for future developments in all of Scioto County.
One of the people at the scene was Andy Gedeon of the Portsmouth City Health Department who has dealt with his share of blighted housing.
“This is a big help with us (Health Department),” Gedeon said. “We’re fighting all these blighted houses. The city doesn’t have the money to tear all these blighted houses down. The county stepped in with the Land Bank program to help out with this. This just goes to show you that when the city and county works together, great things can be accomplished.”
“We have 109 homes in our pipeline,” Davis said. “We’re going from blight to bright.”
The Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation was formed to handle the county’s blighted housing stock, with the goal of eventually putting it back on the tax rolls.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.