Rock Island sells hundreds of city-owned lots, some for as low as $1| Politics and elections

If you have a dollar in your pocket, you can buy a plot of land on Rock Island.

Rock Island City has more than 200 vacant lots for sale, many of which range from $1 to $10. All are now listed on the city’s website.

Most of the real estate was acquired over decades when the city had to purchase plots of land in order to demolish dilapidated or abandoned homes, said Miles Brainard, director of economic and social development.

“The city council used to buy real estate before we could show things off,” Brainard said. “As a result, we own a lot of these vacant lots.”

Brainard said that while they are narrow and sometimes oddly shaped, most of them can be built easily today.

“A lot of these properties are very attractive to neighboring property owners who may have a very tight space and want a larger side yard, backyard, or may just want a garden space,” he said.

City councilors agreed to sell three such lots earlier in the week. Two lots were purchased, on 1925 8th Ave. and 2629 16th Ave. , by Breshawn Hawthorne for $10 and $1 each. The city acquired the lots during county tax auctions in 1977 and 2017 and expects to recover $834 per year in property taxes for both properties now that they’re back on tax rolls.

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A third plot, at 749 15th Street, was sold for $10 to Rock Island resident Monica Berryman. The city acquired the lot for $10 in 2008 via a tax auction and expects to recover $209 annually in property taxes in the future.

In Berryman’s case, Brainard said her father’s house is next to an empty plot of land and the family will now be able to expand their property line.

Mayor Mike Thoms said the city doesn’t typically own real estate, so the program was developed to help individuals buy real estate on Rock Island at a significantly reduced rate.

“This benefits the city by stripping itself of property that it won’t have to maintain and saving the city money,” Toms said. “We hope it will help individuals purchase a piece of property to build a home or expand their existing property at a very reasonable cost while increasing revenue for the city through property taxes.”

To help residents find lots for sale, a large location feature with an interactive map has been added to the city’s website in recent weeks.

“People can now go to that map and zoom in on different packages, click on them and see all kinds of information,” Brainard said. It lists the address, square feet, frontage, depth, and type of partition. All of this information is available so that people can make informed choices.

“Requested prices are also listed – usually the city originally paid them at a tax auction. We ask people to pay closing costs so we don’t get charged to the taxpayer. Closing costs typically range from $600 to $800. This includes all legal fees, title fees, and filing fees at the end “.

Of the available properties, 25 are in the Community Gardening Program. Since these plots may be in the process of planting produce for residents, Brainard said the buyer will have to wait until vegetables are harvested in late summer or early fall before taking ownership of the property.

Of the 96 condo lots available for sale, prices range from $1 for the smaller lots, up to $95,000 for the larger lot on 7th Street. There are a total of 15 lots listed for $10 or less.

The city also has 49 plots of land available marked “development” with the intention of selling to potential developers. Some of these properties include the former Watch Tower Plaza on 11th Street, the former Lincoln Elementary School on 7th Avenue and various locations on the Big Island.

To view available lots, go to the city’s website, click the “Businesses” tab, “Available buildings and locations,” then “Property Inventory.”

An order to purchase a property is also listed on the city’s website. Once the one-page form is submitted, Brainard said the task force will establish a simple purchase agreement between the city and the potential owner. Once the agreement is approved by city council members, the purchase will progress through to closing.

“We try to make it as simple and easy as possible,” Brainard said. “In closing, you show up with your checkbook, we do the closing work, and the property is yours.”

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