Washington housing infill program has approved and has first applicant

A new housing infill program that will encourage builders to acquire distressed properties, tear them down and build new ones in their place has its first applicant.

The program was approved at the Washington City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 2. Those who apply and are approved for the program will receive $5,500 toward the demolition of a single-family home or $7,500 toward the demolition of a multifamily home.

The funds are based on how much the city can expect to receive back in taxes over the course of 10 years. The city has reserved $30,000 to get the program started, and Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson has said the program will eventually pay for itself.

Jeff Hazelett and Scott Goodwin are the first applicants for the program, which Hazelett calls “a fantastic program.” He is excited to see the city participating because to him, it shows they care about the look of homes in the area and the program is designed to be an option for anybody with interest.

“It’s an incentive, and it’s an incentive that anybody and everybody can use,” he said. “You don’t have to be a builder, you don’t have to be a developer, you can just be a regular person and go in and tear a house down and put a new house up there.”

The pair have acquired a property that, based on value, Hazelett estimates was generating about $800 a year in taxes. In its place, they plan to build a duplex that will produce an estimated $3,000 in taxes from each household, totaling $6,000.

Hazelett said the house they chose was beyond repair and this program was the best option for the property. The incentive of the extra $5,500 played a part in his decision to want to participate, because otherwise, it would have been an absorbed cost.

He said if the money were not given by the city, he and Goodwin would have to tack the extra money onto the listing price, in hopes of making their investment back. By the city absorbing a portion of the cost, it maximizes potential for profit.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but at the end of the day, it helps,” he said.