City considers 1.7-acre plot on Water Street

The city of Columbus is considering buying a 1.7-acre plot of land already surrounded by city property.

Members of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission decided to spend $3,200 to seek two appraisals on the land, located at the corner of Water Street and Lafayette Avenue, east of the East Fork White River.

Two houses that had been on the land were damaged in the 2008 flood, redevelopment director Heather Pope said. The site was filled, but has been sitting vacant since 2008.

Cost of two appraisals on the land would be $3,200 — $1,500 to Appraisers Inc. and $1,700 to Don R. Scheidt & Co., both of Columbus. Both companies estimated the appraisals could be completed in 15 working days.

There is no imminent plan to develop the land, Pope said, so the city would incur the responsibility of maintaining the site until a development plan is created.

There are some limitations to the type of development that could be done on the site, Pope said. For example, the lot is an irregular rectangular shape and is restricted by its size and flood levels.

Dave Jones, a former member of the Columbus Park Board and Plan Commission, said during the redevelopment commission’s April and May meetings that he sees no value in purchasing the land if there is no plan for development. He suggested that the redevelopment commission walk away unless a development plan is created.

However, the redevelopment commissioners acting on consensus ultimately decided to proceed with the appraisal process to get an idea of the value of the land before making any further decisions on whether to purchase it.

About the land

A private land owner is offering to sell the city a 1.7-acre site at the corner of Water Street and Lafayette Avenue. The site is surrounded on all sides by other parcels of land owned by the city.

The land was once the site of two houses that were destroyed in the 2008 flood. The parcel has since been filled, but redevelopment director Heather Pope said she was unsure if it had been filled to above the flood plain.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.