Three homes and two vacant lots that Franklin city workers have spent hours mowing, cleaning and maintaining are set to go up for sale.

The goal is to get the properties cleaned up and owned by someone who will do the needed maintenance, so that responsibility — and the cost — doesn’t fall to the city.

All five properties have been vacant for years. The homes are in disrepair, and the land is overgrown. But officials see potential, said Rhoni Oliver, code enforcement officer.

That’s why the city and the Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit agency formed and funded by the city, have been working for years to get the properties off the tax sale list, where each had landed due to unpaid property taxes. By removing them from that list, the goal is to get them sold to an investor or even a potential resident without the buyer having to pay the back taxes and fees, which ranged from $5,500 to more than $90,000, and also fork out the money for needed repairs.

The process to get those properties off the tax sale list and forgive the unpaid taxes took time because it hadn’t been done before, Oliver said. Now, the hope is that the city and nonprofit can do the same for other abandoned and vacant properties in the future, but a lot faster, she said.

The properties the city and nonprofit started with have been vacant for years, have been deemed eyesores and problem properties for the city, and neighbors complain about them, Franklin Development Corp. board member Kim Minton said. Those are the types of properties the program should focus on, and they hope to be able to do a couple each year, she said.

But first, they are focusing on these five properties, including homes on Jefferson Street, Madison Street and Kentucky Street, and vacant lots on Johnson Avenue and Cincinnati Street. Oliver will offer tours of the properties on Thursday and again on Sept. 21, and offers will be accepted until the deadline Sept. 27.

During the last few years, Oliver has heard from about 25 people interested in at least one of the properties, including people who wanted to fix up and live in the homes, she said.

She is hopeful that interest will turn into offers. The Franklin Development Corp. could also help interested buyers with low-interest loans, if they qualify, and officials are looking into any other programs that could be used to fix the properties, she said.

A committee will look at the offers once they are turned in later this month, and is hoping to award the properties by early to mid-October, she said.

The winners won’t necessarily be the highest bidders, Oliver said.

Committee members will be looking at multiple factors, including the proposed price, but also what the buyer wants to do with the property, she said. For example, someone who wants to restore the original wood siding and windows, rather than replace them with vinyl, would be scored higher. A buyer who plans to live in the home, rather than rent it, would also get priority, she said.

“We are asking what is going to be the best thing for the neighborhood,” Oliver said.

At a glance

Here is a look at the vacant Franklin properties that will go up for sale and how you can bid:

Properties:

  • 544 W. Jefferson St.
  • 934 Johnson Ave. (vacant lot)
  • 348 Kentucky St.
  • 551 W. Madison St.
  • 244 Cincinnati St. (vacant lot)

Tours:

Anyone interested in buying the properties can schedule a tour on Thursday or Sept. 21 with Rhoni Oliver at roliver@franklin.in.gov.

How to bid:

Download the offering sheet, process and a map of the properties at www.franklindevelopmentcorporation.org/newprojects. Proposals are due Sept. 27.

For more information:

Visit www.franklindevelopmentcorporation.org. Direct questions about the properties to Oliver at roliver@franklin.in.gov

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.