Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn seeking to develop two abandoned properties

LYNN — The city is seeking developers to transform two dilapidated, abandoned properties into single-family housing. 

The City Council Public Property and Parks Committee voted Tuesday night to release a Request for Proposals seeking a residential use for two city-owned properties, 21R Michigan Ave. and a vacant lot on Myrtle Street. The full panel voted to approve later in the evening. 

The two properties are in poor condition — 21R Michigan is a single-family home in desperate need of rehabilitation, and Myrtle Street is an empty lot that city officials hope a developer would build on. 

The city foreclosed on both properties after the owners of record failed to pay their back taxes, and was later awarded ownership by Massachusetts Land Court. In the instance of Myrtle Street, the former owner simply vanished, according to Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard, chairman of the Public Property and Parks Committee. 

The committee has approved similar redevelopment or rehab of other abandoned, dilapidated and foreclosed-upon public properties, including parcels on Grant Street and Saunders Road, according to Starbard. 

“Rather than having these dilapidated properties sitting about, the smart thing to do is to get rid of it … and put it back on the tax roll,” Starbard said. 

Earlier in the fall, the committee voted to transfer ownership of 21R Michigan Ave. to Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development. Under the arrangement, LHAND would have paid to rehab the property and put it up for sale to a first-time homebuyer. 

But James Lamanna, assistant city solicitor, told the committee that their earlier vote was not lawful because LHAND is prohibited from using federal funding to rehab a dwelling for a single-family home. 

State law doesn’t allow for the property to be sold to a private non-profit, such as LHAND’s development arm, Neighborhood Development Associates (NDA), without going through a bidding process, according to Lamanna.

The nonprofit was the successful bidder on the Saunders Road project and is expected to respond to the RFP for the Michigan Avenue parcel, Lamanna said. 

It’s not clear how much the cost to rehab or build on the properties would be. Land records show 21R Michigan Ave. is assessed at $224,500.

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