Prices are going down for vacant lots in a Lackawanna subdivision where just one house has been built in three years.
The City Council, hoping to attract renewed interest in the parcels off Martin Road, lowered the prices of the lots by $5,000 each Monday night.
Eighteen lots are now available for $15,000 to $25,000, instead of the previous $20,000 to $30,000.
The Council voted unanimously to change the prices at the request of City Assessor Frank E. Krakowski.
“If they’re too high, people will look at them and not even call. You have to generate some interest,” said Krakowski.
The project, which cost city taxpayers more than $800,000 for street paving and storm sewers, and was envisioned as a way to broaden the property tax base with higher-end homes, has been a huge disappointment so far.
Three lots have sold for a total of $72,000, although only one of the owners has built a home. Another one of the owners has informed city officials he’s no longer interested in building.
Builders and real estate brokers have told city officials the lot prices were too high.
In addition, restrictive covenants on the lots dictate that homes in the subdivision have minimum sizes of 1,800 square feet for single-story ranches and 2,400 square feet for two-story houses.
Homes of that size cost more than what most people are willing to pay in today’s market, said Krakowski, who is working with other city officials to get the covenants changed to allow for smaller homes.
“We’re trying to rework the covenant so you have some flexibility in the square footage,” he said.
The current lot owners will have to agree to the changes for them to take effect.
City Council President Henry R. Pirowski said that allowing smaller homes is the only way to fill up the remaining 20 lots.
“The bottom line is 1,800-square-foot ranches and 2,400-square-foot doubles are just not going to happen,” he said. “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and we’ve got to get these properties back on the tax rolls.”
Adjustments to the covenants that would allow for 1,400-square-foot homes could persuade builders to put up models and spur interest, Krakowski said.
“The struggle is the first four or five houses,” he said.
Added Pirowski: “Once you start seeing construction, it will drive demand.”