I’m not suggesting that anyone run out and invest their hard-earned money in this, but our friend Amanda Edmonds, the executive director of the Ypsi-based not-for-profit Growing Hope has what I think is an intriguing idea. She wants to buy up cheap Ypsi land that’s being sold at auction, and repurpose it for urban agriculture. Her thoughts are outlined in the note below. If you’re interested in getting involved, leave a comment, or send me an email, and I’ll pass your contact information along to Amanda… Here’s her note:
The Washtenaw County Tax Foreclosure auction is going on now and ending tomorrow morning. There are a number of vacant lots in Ypsi with minimum bids of $350 with no one currently bidding on them. I see these as potential opportunities for land to be used by urban gardeners & farmers. I’ve looked extensively into most and explored the true costs (beyond purchase price). Seems like an opportunity too good to pass up.
The properties are listed at auction.com. I’ve attached the spec sheet from there for a property at 473 Jefferson– it’s the lot at the farthest east end of Jefferson– behind the Hwy 94 wall… It’s a triangular lot that once had a house on it but no longer does. There is an adjacent vacant triangular lot that will likely go up for foreclosure auction next year, and because this spot is less desirable for development, there could be a good chance that it could later be acquired. There’s good sun, a decent amount of protection, and it’s in fairly low-trafficked area.
Past delinquent taxes are waived for these properties, though the current year tax is due. This property has $527 due in taxes. The property’s current value is $12,600.
If a $350 bid was accepted, the other expenses in the immediate to acquire the land include the $527 in taxes, in the $250 range for title insurance and related fees, and possibly up to a few hundred in other expenses (potentially attorney fees to acquire a quiet title, unless those can be donated). We estimate $1000-$1200 for total acquisition costs. I talked to a title person today and have additional questions for them in the morning to better understand some of that. (I would still love to talk to an attorney who has some real estate knowledge in this area.) It seems like a bit of a leap to do this, but a few of us have been doing what we can to talk to the right people, read all the fine print, etc.
I’m looking for people who want to contribute to purchasing this land. We may later want to talk about how to create a fund or legal entity if necessary for urban ag land holdings in Ypsi (and I’m talking about doing this as me personally right now– not Growing Hope, just so everyone is clear!). Maybe that would or wouldn’t be necessary.
In the meantime, if you want to go in on this, the idea is that we’ll figure out a way to allow the land to be used by one or multiple local urban farmers, whether collectively or individually, for some affordable amount that covers the cost of having the land (e.g. taxes, maybe insurance if necessary). Those answers of how that would work don’t yet exist yet. If you want to contribute and be a part of those next discussions, great. If you want to contribute just to help make it happen but don’t need to be involved after that, great.
So, let me know if you’d like to contribute anywhere from, say $50-$350 to this endeavor, and we’ll see what wild ride happens from here if we get it! If you know others, pass this along…