AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Local developers wanting to build in downtown Augusta find themselves at a roadblock.
Developers recently built these homes for veterans. Now they want to further develop the neighborhood, but they’re running into issues with blighted properties like these.
Blighted properties are those that are in disrepair and not in acceptable condition according to law.
Local developers looking to uplift downtown say owners of blighted properties are stalling progress while awaiting big price offers for their land.
“It’s really hard to develop new construction homes like we’ve done here for our veterans when it’s in such close proximity to blight and abandoned houses,” said Jeremy Johnson, Director of Investor Relations, Vetted Investments.
Shawn Edwards, of Augusta, Georgia Land Bank Authority, tells us blighted properties are more than just dilapidated land.
“It is a drain on community and it is a decrease on equity value and desire for investment,” said Edwards, Executive Director of Augusta, Georgia and Land Bank Authority
The issue of blighted properties in the area will be one of the major presentations at the land bank authority’s conference in October.
“When the product finally hits the ground and this is what we see: overgrowth; vegetation; open entryway; therefore perceptions of crime, if not actual crime; decrease valuation; and then a street that, unfortunately, can feel somewhat abandoned because of the vacancy, because of the dilapidation.” said Edwards. “That’s the reason land banks do what we do.”
Jasmine Murdaugh moved into downtown veteran housing in May.
“I would definitely like to see some of the eyesores off of the street and a lot of the wandering and the homeless off the street,” said Murdaugh. “Of course, we know that’s going to be everywhere…”
Johnson tells us his passion is developing Augusta based on the needs of the community.
“It’s unfair to ask these veterans: ‘yes, you’ve got this new, great looking house, but your next door neighbor is something that’s going to welcome vermin, if not criminal activity because the property itself is blighted,” said Johnson.
Both Johnson and Edwards say they hope October’s conference will encourage people that want to make a difference in their neighborhoods.
“It’s a lot of potential down here, a lot of money to be made,” said Murdaugh. “But a lot of people have to get out of that old mindframe and be willing to do the changes to make it a better environment.”
“We’ve tried to grow annually to meet the needs of the constituents and residents of Richmond County, and we think we’re going to continue to do that this year,” said Edwards.
The Augusta, Georgia Land Bank Authority Conference happens October 3rd through 6th on the Augusta Tech campus. For more information about the event, visit their website here.