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June 16, 2013

Almost $1 million netted from New Albany Midtown project

Administration considers present, future of neighborhood




Duggins and Gahan said the New Albany Redevelopment Commission and the public will be involved in discussions as how to proceed with the next phase of the NSP project.

The redevelopment department chose the Midtown area in the grant application, thus the proceeds from the project must be spent within the designated boundaries.

Duggins said the city has already obtained some properties that could be rehabilitated through tax sales, and thus has been able to garner houses at cheaper costs.

Since the city holds liens on many of the properties in tax sales, Duggins said they are able to purchase them at a less expensive price.

New Albany City Councilman Dan Coffey recently called for an audit of the NSP project, and it was approved by the redevelopment commission.

The project is already audited by the state, but Coffey insisted on approving the resolution to show  what he said is a commitment to transparency in the project.

There have been questions about the project almost since its inception. Some council members took exception at how much New Directions and administrators of the project were paid, as well as the amount of money that was being poured into the houses.

Construction on the houses typically ranged from $117,000 up to more than $200,000. Most were sold for between $75,000 and $109,000, but officials said the discrepancy in construction versus sales proceeds was expected due to the condition of the properties when they were obtained.

Additionally, homeowners had to make between 50 percent and 120 percent of the area median income to qualify to purchase an NSP house.

The city and New Directions did provide $168,000 in grant funds as incentive assistance for some home buyers.

Duggins and Gahan said they support New Directions and are pleased with how the program has led to a new image for the Midtown neighborhood.

Gahan said he plans to ask the city council to fund the salary for a full-time grant supervisor. They would be charged with applying for grants as well as overseeing money awarded to the city.

“They would make sure that we’re in compliance as well as put New Albany in line for as many opportunities as we can be,” Gahan said.

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