More land bank properties open up housing options in Lima

May 26—LIMA — Lima has much more land available than it did just a month ago for families and companies to build.

The city accepted 112 properties from the Allen County Land Bank into its own land bank recently, giving the city 156 properties that could be ready for a new structure, said Carmillia Zion, deputy director of housing and neighborhoods for the City of Lima, during the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce's Wake, Rattle & Roll program Friday morning.

It all happened "in record time," of less than 120 days, giving the city more available properties inside the city for developers.

That's on top of programs to help pay for voluntary demolitions, low-interest loans through Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America for home-buyers and programs to repair existing housing stock, Zion said. The city had a NACA homebuying event in April and will have another from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10 at Lima Senior High School.

"I believe in the mayor's mission for a new Lima," Zion said. "Mayor (Sharetta) Smith made housing a key component of Lima's Better Together Plan. The City of Lima is working to tackle complex problems of housing from multiple angles.

Zion walked through the variety of programs available to knock down, renovate or replace Lima's existing housing options. Many are backed through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Community Development Block Grants.

That includes an option for people to demolish a single-family residential structure for $250 or a garage structure for $100. In 2022, the city issued 47 residential demolition permits before creating the program this year.

City officials are working to make building nearly as simple, she said. Zion talked about a relationship with Vantem, which builds prefabricated houses. The city will also create pre-approved building plans, to speed up how quickly the new homes can go from an idea to reality, she said.

"In the coming months, we will be selecting locations for model homes that will be built by vendors, allowing community members to have experiences following an affordable housing option firsthand," she said.

There are also programs available for tax abatements on new properties, up to 100% for 15 years, depending on the site. Lima has six Community Reinvestment Areas, including North Lima, downtown/Kibby, Central Lima, Cable West, Liberty Commons and Lima/Perry, each offering different terms for new or rehabilitated construction for families, commercial or industrial projects.

It's all part of a goal to rebuild Lima to keep young people here.

"Young people demand a thriving, energetic city," Zion said.

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.