The city plans to buy, demolish and redevelop two neighboring properties on Hickman Avenue into affordable housing.

The 6,500-square-foot houses at 210 and 212 Hickman Ave. are “beyond the point” of cost-effective rehab, Housing Programs Manager Randy Cole said. So the city recommended that clearing the property for new housing would be the best option.

“Anything we put there will be affordable, high-quality housing,” he said. “But it will likely be owner-occupied.”

Although there are no specific designs yet, Cole said the redeveloped properties will match the rest of the houses on the street. Once the city is ready to build the houses, they will request proposals from developers.

Property owner Mohammad Diab said he approached the city to buy and redevelop his property after he couldn’t find another person to buy it.

“I was wanting to tear it down and make it a new apartment or duplex,” he said.

He said that affordable housing would be a good idea and that new housing would be a good addition to the street.

The city plans to buy the combined properties for $40,000 and demolition is projected to cost $25,000, according to a bill that was introduced at the Columbia City Council’s meeting Tuesday night. The city plans to cover these costs with federal Community Development Block Grant money.

Construction of new homes would be covered with HOME funding.

The bill will be up for a final council vote on Sept. 16. The city would try to close on the property by the end of the following week, Cole said, and then “move relatively quickly” to demolish the houses by the end of the year.

Construction on new housing is projected for fall 2020, Cole said. That’s because the city already has several redevelopment underway.

The proposed 2020-24 CDBG and HOME Consolidated Plan, which was the subject of an initial public hearing Tuesday night reflects the city’s goal of demolishing and replacing at least 10 rundown houses during the five-year span. Cole said the Hickman Avenue project aligns with that goal.

“We’re always interested in properties, particularly in that neighborhood, where we’re doing work nearby,” Cole said. “Having two right next to each other is a really good purchase, especially when there seems to be quite a bit of work going on from private markets on that street. So, if we can throw in some work, too, I think it will really help that street.”

Attempts to reach neighbors for comment were unsuccessful.

  • Public Life reporter, fall 2019. I am studying investigative journalism. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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