Metropolis turns to empty lots to help rebuild community

 Renew Metropolis has been meeting for about a year and chairman Jerry Mizell tells Local 6 they’re starting to pick up speed. Soon, the people living in Metropolis will start to see things change. 

The focus is the empty lots around town. There are 16 lots the city has acquired over the past eight to 10 years. The city spent about $3,500 each to clear the condemned houses that sat on the lots, and now Mizell says the committee wants to figure out how to invest in them again and build new houses on them. 

Made up of contractors, bank and real estate professionals, Mizell says the committee has the expertise to make it happen and make it at the lowest cost possible. Its focus is on funding right now, and the goal to be able to build houses it can sell from $52,000 to $58,000. Then, it will focus on the application process and guidelines for owning. Mizell says the committee wants people who might not otherwise be able to buy a home be the ones to get the first shot. 

The first area it plans to build is on 11th Street, right across from the police station. The lot is about 22,000 square feet and has enough room to build three houses. Mizell says it will impact the neighborhood and the community the most. 

“It will give people the incentive to start helping themselves,” he says.

Alice Johnson hopes so. She’s lived behind the empty lot for more than 24 years. She saw it when it was a house, then a condemned house, and now a vacant lot. She’d like to see others in her neighborhood take care of their homes the way she does. 

“It’s an old house, but I try to keep it up,” she says. “It’s a pretty nice neighborhood.”

Mizell says he hopes to have the project moving forward as soon as possible so the committee can start looking for applicants and break ground. He says the end result should be a cleaner city. 

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