Warren to buy and sell tax-reverted properties

Deal with developer would require commitment to owner-occupied homes

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 18, 2014

WARREN — The city of Warren will buy more than 250 tax-reverted properties from the county this summer with the intention of selling them to a private developer that would then be required to keep a certain percentage of them owner-occupied homes.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the plan would encourage home ownership and reduce the potential for an increased number of rental properties.

Officials said tax-reverted properties, forfeited to the county after three years of nonpayment, previously had been bought in bulk at the Macomb County auction over the last two years. When that happened, Fouts said the city had no control over how the properties were renovated and marketed individually or in groups.

After the properties are purchased by the city this year, Fouts said they would be sold to a private developer selected through a public bid process. He said the city would “select a developer that understands the importance of home ownership and the benefits of stabilizing neighborhoods to the surrounding community.”

“We’re trying to take control,” Fouts said. “We’re going to say, ‘We’ll sell you 250 properties but, in return, you’ve got to commit that you’ll keep a certain percentage of them for single-family residences.”

Fouts said that requirement could be 50 percent.

The city planned to host a pre-bid meeting at City Hall at 10 a.m. June 13. Fouts said proposals would be judged on various components, including the developer’s commitment to owner occupancy.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Warren to redevelop our neighborhoods, eliminate blight and increase home values,” Fouts said.

Macomb County Treasurer Ted Wahby said it would cost Warren about $1.4 million to purchase this year’s batch of tax-delinquent properties. That amount includes only the amount of back taxes owed that are required to make the county whole.

Wahby said the county was still in the process of compiling its list of tax-reverted properties in Warren and that the transaction should take place within the next few weeks, before auction in August.

He said Warren bought tax-reverted properties under the previous administration but stopped exercising its right to do so for several years.

“I think Warren’s doing the right thing. I think they’ve got their arms around it and they’re going back to what they used to do,” Wahby said. “It brings stability. That’s what he (Fouts) is looking for.”