SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTGS) — The City of Savannah has the initiative to get rid of blight and revitalize rundown areas.
They are starting in west Savannah by acquiring blighted properties through eminent domain, tearing them down, and building a new home in its place. More than half of the houses on Cumming Street are abandoned and boarded up.
They broke ground on the first house they're rebuilding on Cumming Street in September. A month and a half later, it's almost done.
Martin Fretty, the Director of Housing and Neighborhood Services for the City of Savannah, said this will help solve problems these neighborhoods are facing.
"There’s a problem with abandoned and blighted property that’s basically lowering property values of people who live on the street but they also bring with it disinvestment, criminal activity," he said.
The new home, located at 228 Cumming St., is the first house built in the revitalization project.
They tore it down in March, broke ground in September, and now it's close to finished. It is a three-bedroom, two-bath home.
A recent change in Savannah eminent domain laws allows the city to acquire these blighted properties and sell them right away for redevelopment.
Fretty said they have been approved to buy four more on Cumming Street and have two others in the court process.
"Probably in January we’re hoping this house will be complete, maybe the first part of February, we’re hoping that will hand the keys over to the owner that’s purchasing it and at the same time break ground on all those other seven or eight houses on this block," he said.
Another part of this project is to provide homes that are affordable to people who live here. The home developer, CHSA, is looking for someone to buy the house for about $150,000.
"This will be an affordable house for someone to buy with payments somewhere around $750-$900, so that’s affordable. The big picture is this is going to transform the street from all the dilapidated houses to houses like you see right now," said Darrel Daise, director of CHSA development.
This is the first step in a major revitalization plan. Fretty said $10 million of the new SPLOST that passed in last week’s election is going towards buying and rebuilding blighted properties.
"We plan to use the $10 million over the next 10 years to buy 1,000 properties at least," he said.
He said with how fast the builders have been moving on this house, it is expected to be completely finished in January.