Next 'Healthy Home' on Grove Street SVHC aims to acquire property from town, renovate it

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BENNINGTON — A Grove Street home the town acquired at a tax sale last June stands to be the fourth home rehabilitated under an initiative by the local healthcare system.

It was one of five tax sale-acquired properties officials took action on this week. Select Board members unanimously approved the sale of the Grove Street home to Southwestern Vermont Health Care's Healthy Homes for Bennington, L3C. A fifth property that failed to elicit the minimum bid will be re-advertised for sealed bid.

An additional 18 properties have been advertised as to be sold at a tax sale next month to recover delinquent payments for property taxes, water and sewer fees, or some combination. The sale is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. at the town offices.

A single-family home at 213 Grove St. requires "a substantial amount of work," according to Town Manager Stuart Hurd, who recommended members accept SVHC's bid of $30,000 even though it fell below the minimum amount of $38,687.

The Grove Street home would be the fourth acquired under the Healthy Homes initiative, which aims to "acquire and completely renovate abandoned single-family properties," Kevin P. Dailey with SVHC wrote in a Sept. 8 letter.

"If our bid is accepted, we fully expect to incur a loss upon sale of the renovated property," Dailey wrote. "We consider the 'loss' as our investment to the improvement of this residential district."

The town bid the minimum amount on five of eight properties that didn't sell at the June 2016 sale. Those property owners had a one-year redemption period to pay what's owed to the town with monthly interest of one percent, in addition to that year's property taxes. In August, the town advertised the properties to be sold by sealed bids; which were open Sept. 12.

The sales approved Monday are subject to a 30-day period in which at least five percent of residents could file a petition to prevent them from moving forward.

Under SVHC's Healthy Homes for Bennington initiative, two residences have been renovated on County and Park Streets, and a third on Spring Street is underway.

Dailey wrote the Grove Street property is in a similar state of disrepair as to what the Park Street home was. That home was purchased for $25,000 under an "arms-lenth" transfer with the owner, he wrote, and after renovations, reappraised at $140,000. "We anticipate that the fully-renovated Grove Street residence will have a comparable value." A general contractor estimated repairs will cost $110,000 to improve the home to a "close to new" condition. "The proposed renovation estimate plus the amount of our bid total $140,000, which is similar to the anticipated total value."

A bid for a property at 186 South Branch St. was rejected because it didn't meet the minimum $15,927, Hurd said. Other bids approved this week were for properties at 217 Washington Ave. (Nathan Rowe, $28,000), 816 Main St. (Christiana Salem, $37,401), and 937 Gage St. (Richard Roy, $28,600.)

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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