Free Lots Help Central City Grow

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Central City's City Administrator Chris Anderson says about six years ago the city had lots in a subdivision that just wouldn't sell.

So they started a free lot program to help spur development -- build a house and the lot it's on is yours.

Anderson says so far it's been a success. 21 living units have been constructed on 18 lots.

"On those free lots we have over $2.3 million in taxable valuation that's developed on those, so it's been a very successful, very positive program for Central City," says Anderson.

Bill and Lavon Stuart built a house in Central City which Bill's parents now live in. They say the free lot made it an even more worthwhile investment for them.

"$10,000 equity doesn't just show up every day," says Bill, "and it's been a long time since they gave land away, so it's a really good deal."

Anderson says they filled up that first subdivision fairly quickly using the free lot program, so the city decided to start buying up dilapidated properties, tearing down the houses on them, and give those lots away too.

"We'll put it into our free lot program and have somebody come and put a new unit on it, and that's been a really good way of revitalizing our neighborhoods," he says.

Anderson says they've seen people from the area taking advantage of the free lots, but also have builders speculating on the properties and people moving in from outside the community.

The Stuarts say no matter who builds a new home it still means their community is growing.

"I think people want to see a community grow and it's growing because people are building, so I would assume that they would want to come," says Lavon.

Anderson says Central City is already working on developing another 45 lot subdivision, and has a grant to build two low-income duplexes on two other lots the city owns.

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