Vacant and dilapidated rentals on Ricker Street could be rehabilitated | New Policies
WATERLOO – Residents of the 200 block of Ricker Street could see new investment in nearby long-vacant and run-down housing.
As part of the city’s overarching goal of rehabilitating housing in long-neglected neighborhoods, Rudy Jones, director of community development, told Waterloo City Council during its business session on Monday that he wanted to target five properties along Ricker as well as two on nearby East Fourth Street. for eventual rehabilitation and, in at least one case, demolition.
“Looking at these photos, it makes me very sad that we have these gaping wounds in many of our neighborhoods,” Councilman Jonathan Grieder said. “At this time, we are telling the citizens of this region that you are not worthy of our attention, and I strongly do not believe that is the case.”
Some of the properties are owned by out-of-town LLCs, bought at tax sales for pennies on the dollar and overlooked, said intern Lindsey McEnaney, who made the initial presentation.
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“There are LLCs that buy these properties on tax sales and do nothing to bring the properties up to code, turn them into rentals even when they’re not livable, and sell them at an extremely low cost just so they can break even,” McEnaney mentioned. “Ultimately, they are contributing to the negative downward trend in some neighborhoods.”
- 232 Ricker St., vacant since 2017 and purchased for sale for $27,080 in July by 11T IA LLC in Omaha.
The property is undergoing “substantial rehabilitation” and the owner was currently trying to sell it for around $30,000. Contacted on Wednesday, Jones said he had reached an agreement to buy it and expected to bring that deal to the board at an upcoming meeting.
Jones predicted the renovations would cost between $75,000 and $100,000.
- 228 Ricker St., vacant since 2019 and purchased for sale for $521 in August 2020 by ACC 291 LLC in Des Moines. It was last valued at $24,350, a steep drop from its 2020 valuation of $41,960.
The property is a likely candidate for rehabilitation, although Jones said the owner has not yet allowed staff inside to assess it. A garage behind the property is “completely deteriorated”, according to McEnaney, and Jones is working with the city’s legal and code enforcement departments to compel the owners to sell.
- 226 Ricker St., owned by Betty Creighton of Waterloo, who uses it only sporadically, according to Jones. The home has no code violations and was last appraised at $40,640.
“We’ll just keep an eye on that one and see how it goes,” Jones said.
- 224 Ricker St., vacant since 2015 and owned by Charles and Ruby Wright of Waterloo. The home was last appraised at $14,300.
The owners have indicated they want to sell to the city, Jones said. But they also started siding the house recently. Jones said he would still like to pursue the purchase and rehabilitation of the home.
- 227 Ricker St., vacant since 2017, and the owner died in 2019, according to McEnaney. Online records show the property is owned under contract by Robert and Mary Alexander of Decatur, Georgia, and was last appraised at $13,340.
“It’s definitely one of our worst,” McEnaney said. Jones noted that he would ask the city to demolish the property.
- 1804 E. Fourth St., vacant since 2013 and city owned since 2019. It was last assessed at $20,530, although as city property it is tax exempt.
Councilor Jerome Amos noted that he remembers the property being part of a development agreement with the city. Jones said yes, and that he was working with the city’s planning department to determine if the extent of the neglect will allow for rehabilitation or if the house should be torn down and rebuilt.
- 1712 E. Fourth St., vacant, bought on sale for $4,500 in October 2019 by Maria Garcia of Charles City. It was last appraised at $18,610.
Jones said his office is still contacting the owners to determine if they want to sell.
As part of the city’s Vision 2030 plan, Jones’s charge is to rehabilitate 800 homes in the city over the next eight years.
The properties are next to or behind new homes the city has taken possession of on Newell Street and worked with Hawkeye Community College to rebuild — the city just finalized the sale of a third Newell Street home this week. But Jones said he was in favor of rehabilitating the Ricker Street homes in most cases, noting they still had “good bones”.
“If we don’t, we’re looking at basically eliminating a block,” Jones said. “The likelihood of new construction on Ricker is probably twice as high as it was on Newell Street.”
Jones noted that he will use funding from the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program as well as Community Development Block Grants to pay for the rehabilitation.
“It’s a quick way to make a big impact on our city,” said Councilman John Chiles, who previously served on the community development board. “(We) must take responsibility for alerting our citizens to what is available to them.”
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