It has taken a year and a half, but the city of Macon is finally about to sell a dozen vacant, unused lots.
L.W. Benton Auction & Realty Co. is taking bids for the land until noon Thursday, company owner Bo Benton said.
Its a great opportunity for the right person to buy property, if theyve got something to do with it, he said. Adjacent landowners who might want to enlarge their own lots might be particularly interested, Benton said.
Getting the land on the market has been a long process. In late 2010, then-Councilman Mike Cranford asked city Engineering Manager Bill Causey to compile a list of lots that could be sold. The city has dozens of small fragments, often oddly shaped and landlocked, left over from years of road projects. There also are large lots on Pierce Avenue acquired from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 1994 flood. But since those are in a risky flood plain, they cant be built upon.
Causey did, however, find 17 decent-sized lots. In December 2010, Cranford sponsored a resolution to sell those lots by auction, sealed bid or other means.
Five of the 17, however, are addresses assigned to a forested valley along an unbuilt portion of Plumtree Street. Those lots, acquired in 1973 for token prices, arent offered for sale.
The five properties that were removed are being looked at for acquisition by the Ocmulgee National Monument, mayoral spokesman Chris Floore said via e-mail. They have expressed an interest in these properties (which are adjacent to them) as a way to expand.
Ocmulgee National Monument is doing a boundary adjustment study, looking mostly at land to the south but also a few plots on its north side to serve as a buffer zone, National Monument Superintendent Jim David said.
Monument officials have talked to the affected landowners, including the city about its Plumtree Street lots, he said.
Basically, no one had any objection to being part of the study, David said.
But it probably will take a couple of years before any boundary change, he said.
The recommendation that emerges from the study may urge acquiring the city land, and its up to Congress to approve moving the boundary lines. Only if the federal government agrees can National Monument officials start talks with landowners, David said.
Clay Murphey, a developer who served for several months as Mayor Robert Reicherts interim spokesman, was in charge of preparing to market the dozen remaining properties, interim Chief Administrative Officer Dale Walker said.
It took a while to get these to market because of the clear title issue and attorney review, Walker said via e-mail. I believe it was finally decided to sell the property as is.
Benton said discussion of the property with the city has gone on intermittently since the start of this year, but it was only three or four weeks ago that the auction company got full information and could start doing its own title searches.
Once we got it, wasnt but a couple, two-three weeks to get everything sorted thorough title-wise and get ready to sell, Benton said.
Bidding will be open through noon Thursday, he said.
Those without Internet access can bid at Bentons office, located at 107 Oak Valley Drive on Ga. 49 in Jones County.
Cranford said in 2010 that it was unlikely lots would bring in much money, but selling them would at least get the land off the citys hands and put it back on the tax rolls. Thats still the main purpose, Floore said.
Most of the lots are concentrated in the Fort Hill area of east Macon, while a few are off Vineville Avenue on the north side. The remaining few are scattered across the city.
While a few of the lots were bought for prices ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for purposes that are now obscure, most were taken by the city for unpaid taxes or essentially given to the city for token payments of $1 to $100, according to the deed information Causey assembled. Others were willed to the city, he said.
They range in size from 0.07 acres at 2731 Toombs St. to a 2.3-acre tract at 1952 Clinton Road. That heavily overgrown lot between Pine Ridge Apartments and Huntley Ridge Drive was bought in 1976 for $25,000 and is the only one that could be described as being in a moderately prosperous neighborhood. It was bought for a fire station that eventually was built elsewhere, Causey said.
Most are toward the lower end of the size range, with several at or close to 0.15 acres.
Almost all were acquired in the 1970s or 1990s. The most recent acquisition is 323 Dewitt St., a narrow brush-covered lot in a half-empty neighborhood. The 0.15-acre tract was acquired for $10 from a bank holding company in 1999.
The oldest is 175 Culver St., 1.32 acres of kudzu over rugged ground off Vineville Avenue. It was willed to the city in 1940 to be developed as a permanent park and playground for white people, according to the deed. The park was never built.
Benton acknowledged that some of the lots, in depressed areas or on awkward sites, may be hard to sell.
Thats something were kind of going to have to gauge when we get there, he said. The city does reserve the right to reject bids it deems inadequate, Benton said.
Any properties that dont sell will remain with the city; at that time, well have to make a determination of our options and the next steps, Floore said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.