Authority to vote on vacant lot transfers

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority’s board will vote next week on transferring 105 vacant lots to four nonprofits to use for affordable housing or community green space.

Habitat for Humanity would get nine, the Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance would get seven, the Jarvis Green Foundation would get 35 and the National Housing and Community Development Organization would get 54.

The tax-delinquent properties were transferred to the RDA from the city-parish.

RDA Vice President Mark Goodson said the lots will go for appraised market value — $693,200 total — while the cost of clearing the titles to the properties won’t be recouped because it was funded by grant money.

The transaction would represent by far the largest number of adjudicated lots transferred to third parties by the RDA, which had previously transferred nine to Habitat for Humanity.

Goodson said that while some of the lots are contiguous, none constitute a piece of land as big as a city block. The Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance, for example, has six of its seven adjacent to one another and will see if it can purchase the others from their owners to do a townhouse development, said Sam Sanders, the organization’s executive director.

Sanders said the properties Mid-City hopes to require are on North 24th Street, behind Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church.

The 105 properties are in areas targeted for redevelopment by the RDA — Old South Baton Rouge, Midcity, Valley Park, Zion City/Glen Oaks, Melrose East, Choctaw Corridor and Scotlandville Gateway.

Habitat for Humanity has been building on the lots it has acquired from the RDA, and the Jarvis Green Foundation, created by former LSU and NFL football player Jarvis Green, has affordable housing as one of its key missions.

Goodson said the National Housing and Community Development Organization is affiliated with Helena Cunningham, the past director of the Louisiana Housing Corp. and one of the developers of 438 Main St., the downtown apartment building that has some affordable housing units in it. Cunningham could not be reached for comment.

Goodson said the large number of lots represents strides the RDA has made at improving the process it uses to clear titles of the liens and lawsuits that typically keep properties out of commerce. But the cost of doing so was funded by a one-time grant. He said the RDA will likely move to a model of specifically selecting adjudicated properties that nonprofits tell it they can use, Goodson said.

The RDA’s board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 801 North Blvd., Suite 200.