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Columbus is using tech-savvy ways to fill unoccupied property sites.
New on the city’s website is an interactive map with vacant local lots, leaving a prospective developer a mouse move and a click away from catalogs of information about the properties, which could be used to build multifamily residential units and commercial properties alike.
“What we’re trying to do is make the site known to those who might be interested,” Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Director Jeff Bergman said. “From there, it’s really up to the developers or private businesses to propose something.”
The map targets 20 vacancies, also called infill properties, located in the city limits, within areas of existing development and tracts that are large enough to support a moderate- to large-scale development.
On the Web
Columbus has added an interactive map to its website that lists unoccupied property sites. How to check the site:
Below menu, click on Infill Site Profiles
An interactive map shows the existing vacant lots located in the city limits, within areas of existing development and large enough to support a moderate- to large-scale development.
Each profile includes the size, location and owner (along with contact information) of the property.
Fifteen more sites are to be added soon, City Planning Director Jeff Bergman said.
For now, the only things not there are buildings.
“I think they’re making an accommodating move there as far as exposing some of this,” said Rick Agnew, owner of Agnew Commercial Properties. “It seems like they’re trying to bring it to the forefront.”
Agnew has a vested interest in getting exposure for the properties because he owns three of them and is a broker locally. He’s not the only one benefiting by getting properties occupied, though. The city does, too.
“There are a number of policies in the city’s comprehensive plan to encourage infill development,” Bergman said. “The infrastructure is already in place. The streets are there, the water lines are there, the sewer lines are there.”
By accommodating potential developers with knowledge in a convenient way, Bergman hopes to hear phones buzzing in the near future. The site has only been operating since early July.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from owners of these properties and from realtors trying to develop these properties has been positive,” Bergman said. “I think it will be some time until we actual see a direct relationship between putting that information out there and some development actually happening.”
Mary Hada, of NPR Group LLC, a multihousing developer, used the city’s website to research building spots. Although her business ended up passing on Columbus, Hada said she found the city’s site second-to-none.
“The website was phenomenal to work with, but at the time we’re not going to be developing any property in Columbus,” she said. “But we certainly look forward to using it as a prospect in the future.”
The website’s vacant properties range from less than 10 acres to more than 30 acres. Bergman said the city has about 15 more to be added to the site. He said having 35 infill properties is not unusual for a city the size of Columbus.
“I think just from observation Columbus probably has a similar amount, if not fewer, than other similar-sized cities,” he said.
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