Trotwood Redevelopment Corp finds big demand for renovated homes

How these cities are fighting blight, putting more homes on the market

Trash and broken furniture cover the stained carpet at the boarded, long-vacant house at 1538 Midwood Ave., in Trotwood, where paint strips hang like confetti from the ceiling and an awful smell fills the air as soon as Chad Downing unlocks the door.

The house, slated for cleanup and repair, is another piece in the Trotwood Community Improvement Corp.’s effort to take blighted, vacant, tax delinquent houses, repair them and get them in the hands of homeowners.

The Trotwood Community Improvement Corp. acquired this home at 1538 Midwood Ave. It will be rehabbed by an investor. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

Once renovations are complete, the houses not only help relieve the shortage of homes for sale in the Dayton region, but give neighbors a sense of relief that their own values are not being driven down by blight.

“I’m glad something is finally getting done here,” said Luke Clark, who lives down the street at 4428 Engleka Court.

RELATED: Why the booming Dayton housing market needs more homes for sale

Luke Clark talks about Trotwood Community Improvement Corp’s housing rehab program and its impact in his neighborhood. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

The Dayton Daily News Path Forward initiative seeks solutions to the most pressing issues in our community, including making sure our region is prepared for the economy of the future. This story examines some solutions local communities have used to address the housing market inventory shortage and the blight left in the wake of the Great Recession.

This vacant, dilapidated house at 1538 Midwood Ave. in Trotwood will be rehabbed through a program operated by the Trotwood Community Improvement Corp. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

Downing is housing director for the Trotwood CIC. It’s a nonprofit land bank that takes possession of the homes through the tax foreclosure process, cleans them out and sells them to investors who rehab them under strict standards set by the CIC. The houses are then sold to homeowners, or in some cases rented out by the investors.

RELATED: Group seeking $5M grant to invest in Trotwood and Dayton redevelopment

“Trotwood does a great job of stabilizing these houses,” said William Allen, co-owner of Righteous Development of Trotwood, who is rehabbing a home at 4301 Nevada Ave. that he expects will sell in the $50,000 range.

“It helps bring the neighborhood up,” Allen said.

Chad Downing, housing director for Trotwood Community Improvement Corp., left, talks with developer Robert Buycks. He and his partners in Righteous Development of Trowood are renovating this home at 4301 Nevada Ave. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

Downing said 43 CIC properties were sold to home buyers and 23 were turned into rentals since 2015, restoring about $90,000 in annual property taxes to schools and other taxing agencies that got nothing during the years that the properties sat vacant.

RELATED: Tornado survivors seek help at FEMA center in Trotwood

Another 24 properties are in the pipeline for repairs and 23 more are in the process of tax foreclosure.

The CIC is also finalizing a contract with a developer to build about 100 low- to moderate-income houses on vacant land in the Townview and Drexel neighborhoods of Trotwood, said Fred Burkhardt, executive director of the CIC.

RELATED: See how property values in your community have declined since recession

Fred D. Burkhardt, Executive Director, Trotwood Community Improvement Corp. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

“Is there a demand for $400,000 houses in Trotwood? No,” said Burkhardt. “Is there demand for a house that can be afforded by a working family? Yes. We have a shortage.”

RELATED: Trotwood’s new $5.1 million library nearing construction on land from CIC

Burkhardt said the CIC selects neighborhoods where acquiring and renovating houses will “turn the neighborhood from going from the tipping point of being seriously blighted back into a more positive, stabilized neighborhood.’”

The Trotwood Community Improvement Corp. is hoping to take possession of this vacant home at 4650 Gardendale Ave. in Trotwood and rehab it. STAFF PHOTO/Lynn Hulsey
Photo: Lynn Hulsey

The much larger Montgomery County Land Bank also focuses on “tipping point” neighborhoods, Executive Director Mike Grauwelman said.

The land bank, a quasi-public-private organization, began its work in 2011. It has received more than $26 million in state and federal funding to obtain and demolish 1,700 single-family homes and duplexes in communities across Montgomery County. The properties can then be turned over to responsible owners for a nominal fee.

RELATED: What homes are selling for in your community

A separate land bank program has acquired and transferred more than 200 vacant, tax delinquent homes to be renovated by new owners.

Mike Grauwelman, executive director Montgomery County Land Bank
Photo: Staff Writer

“This is heavy lifting, but it’s gratifying,” Grauwelman said. “That whole blight is removed and therefore you’ve repositioned the neighborhood. Its extraordinarily important for the neighborhood to believe that it is worthwhile to continue to invest in itself.”

The federal and state funding sources have dried up, so the land bank will continue its work with $1.6 million in county delinquent tax payment fees and penalties while seeking new funding sources. But Grauwelman said the bottom line is fewer demolitions will be possible once the land bank finishes its final 100.

“I don’t see any programs that are being developed or advocated that would support continuing to do this,” Grauwelman said.

The Fountain Avenue neighborhood in Dayton was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis and has not recovered. Houses all along the street are dilapidated, with broken windows, overgrown yards and boards nailed over doors and windows. PHOTOS by Lynn Hulsey
Photo: Staff Writer

The land bank has worked with the city of Dayton to demolish blighted property, but he said it has typically not been active in the Dayton neighborhoods most devastated by the home foreclosure crisis because there are simply too many dilapidated, abandoned houses to fix.

“You could spend all of the money that is spent in the city of Dayton on one neighborhood,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said.

In addition to demolition, the city blight-battle toolbox includes turning vacant lots over to neighbors, spending money on repaving, improving public safety and upgrading major corridors that are entryways into the neighborhoods, she said.

RELATED: Neighborhoods where 5 women found plagued by blight, vacant homes

Boards are torn off the garage of the vacant house at 22 W. Hudson Ave. Dayton, where Krystal Garcia, 30, of Dayton was found shot to death Sept. 25, 2017 in back yard. The cause of death is homicide. STAFF Lynn Hulsey
Photo: Lynn Hulsey/Lynn Hulsey

Sometimes public sector help needed for the “gap funding” to make redevelopment projects work in the most blighted sections of the city, said Darrin Carey, owner of Dayton Capital Partners, which is a real estate investment, lending and redevelopment company in Dayton.

“When I get to Fountain/Delaware/Santa Clara (in north Dayton), it will take me $40,000 or $50,000 to fix up a house over there and I’m not sure I can sell it for $30,000,” Carey said. “Most of those houses still have good bones. They have a good structure, but they essentially need everything else. The plumbing has been stolen. The wiring is gone.”

Darrin Carey, owner of Dayton Capital Partners
Photo: Staff Writer

Officials recognize that the costs are prohibitive to turn around places off North Main Street that were ground zero in the foreclosure crisis. But they hope that as the economy continues to improve investors will begin redeveloping those neighborhoods and bringing houses back into the housing market.

RELATED: 5 things to know about the Dayton region housing market

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. Photo by Marshall Gorby
Photo: HANDOUT

“The major challenge is always how do you attract investment to areas that have challenged economic markets.” Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said. “The government can feed markets, but we can’t create markets.”

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

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Tornado survivors seek help at FEMA center in Trotwood

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