New Speedy Foreclosures Mean 400 Blighted Homes To Come Down

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Starting this fall, hundreds of homes will be bulldozed in Franklin County.

On Tuesday, the county prosecutor filed the first of a new type of speedy foreclosure, with 400 more to come in the next few weeks.

A year ago, Matt Talbot left German Village and moved into a renovated house downtown on Ann Street, close to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

He said that many homes on the street behind him are in the process of being renovated.  

But he lives next door to two dilapidated homes with drooping siding.

"It doesn't help to have what looks like drug houses around the neighborhood," Talbot said. "I really can't wait for them to get torn down."

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien and Treasurer Ed Leonard said that help is coming.

These houses, in the 600 block of Ann Street, will be among the first of 400 to be demolished this year.

All are blighted.  All owe back taxes.  In the past, demolition took a long time because after a judge ruled that a property was in foreclosure, property speculators often purchased the home at a sheriff's sale auction.  

But O'Brien said a new state law eliminates the sheriff's sale auction option.

"These will seek to be acquired under a law that was recently adopted by the legislature and has a short fuse." O'Brien said.

He said under the new law -- and with a judge's foreclosure approval -- 46 days after papers are filed, the city and/or county land bank gets the property. Then it can start demolition.

"We want to respect people's property rights, but we also have to make sure that we move these as quickly as possible," Leonard said.  "What we hope (to do) is by eliminating these blighted properties, we can actually improve property values in neighborhoods."

The money for the work -- around $16 million -- comes from the Ohio Attorney General's settlement with Bank of America.

For neighbors like Talbot, the tear-downs can't come soon enough.

"I'll just be able to be in my back yard and not have to stare out at these things every day. The image of the neighborhood has been slowly going up. To get the shadier looking buildings out of here will definitely help," Talbot said.

Leonard said that once the eyesores are gone, he hopes developers will come in and build new homes on the vacated land.  

He said the new buildings also would raise the property values of the neighborhoods.

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