The city of Union is now the owner of two homes and five apartment units.
City officials recently finalized the sale on the foreclosed properties located at 1009 and 1019 N. Oak St. and the Central Avenue apartments, located at 208 Central Ave.
According to City Administrator Russell Rost, the ultimate goal is to raze the structures and work with Habitat for Humanity or a similar group to get three to four new homes built.
The project will revitalize the neighborhood, he said.
The property at 1009 N. Oak had been heavily damaged by fire. The home at 1019 N. Oak had numerous complaints because of its condition and was no longer habitable, Rost said. Neither of the two houses had occupants.
Four of the five apartments have occupants, all who have been notified of the city’s plans.
The city will continue working with the occupants in the apartments to give them proper notice to relocate. Several of the property owners already were planning to move, Rost noted.
All of the properties were purchased from the lenders, Robert and Pamela Ashcraft, Des Peres, for $57,999.28 — one-fourth of the assessed valuation listed by the county assessor.
Previous owners were Warren and Ellen Carroll.
“We had been getting complaints on these properties for the last five or six years,” Rost said. Some of the issues had been sent to municipal court for action, but no progress had been made.
Last fall, Trinity Presbyterian Church members volunteered to help clean up the exteriors as part of a volunteer mission. Members cut brush and removed debris to help get the property in compliance with city codes.
At that time, eight dump truckloads of vegetation and debris were removed.
“It helped considerably but didn’t address all of the issues,” Rost said.
During that cleanup, the owners notified the city that they could not maintain the property and were going to allow it to go into foreclosure.
Rost began working with the lender to acquire the properties.
He also has met with representatives with Habitat for Humanity, who have an interest in working with the city.
Rost said he has talked with the Paralyzed Veterans of America Association to ask about constructing modified homes for veterans who have been wounded.
Unfortunately, their model requires that after a home is constructed, they provide staff and ongoing services, he said.
The city is still interested in working with veterans who, with modifications to a home, could live independently.
“We would certainly like to discuss the possibilities with anyone in that situation,” he said.
The next step is to subdivide the lots and simultaneously begin removing debris from the outside of the properties. They also will have to be inspected for asbestos to see if city crews can remove the structures or if a licensed contractor will have to do that part of the work.
Rost said he hopes to begin the removal in early summer.
Even if the city doesn’t recoup expenses from the purchase of the properties and cleanup “this is the most economical and certainly the fastest way to address” the issues, Rost said.