City of Watertown looking for developers to rehab eight houses

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WATERTOWN — If you’re looking for a fixer-upper, the city just might have one for you.

The city is seeking proposals from developers and contractors for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of eight homes that it owns and wants to sell.

The city took title to the eight homes through the tax foreclosure process and wants to work with local developers and contractors to rehabilitate the properties.

Potential buyers must go through a request for proposal process, or RFP, to show what they plan to do with the vacant houses that are in need of repairs.

While some of the houses are in better shape than others, the blight caused by the more deteriorated houses has a negative effect on their neighborhoods, said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s director of planning and community development.

Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors, said redeveloping the eight houses will make their neighborhoods “more desirable and nicer.”

If it’s true that one deteriorating house in a neighborhood can result in other homes starting to deteriorate, then the opposite can also be true, he said.

“If one house is fixed up, then other houses around it can get fixed up,” he said.

The city hopes to provide home ownership when possible from the program, Mr. Lumbis said. Homeowners tend to take better care of properties, he said.

Rather than holding a public auction as in past years, the City Council decided earlier this year to use the RFP process to sell the houses because the city will have more control over what happens with their redevelopment, Mr. Lumbis said.

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