Valdosta Daily Times

December 30, 2012

Auctioned houses see improvements

Property investments expected to increase community value

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The houses sold at auction Sept. 25 are seeing marked changes that could restore the tax value of properties across Valdosta and the neighborhoods in which they stand, according to city officials.

One hundred percent of the sales, the liquidated holdings of CMAX Properties formerly owned by Charles Toles, were closed and officially finalized by the Oct. 25 deadline. The nearly 150 auctioned properties are now spread among 38 purchasers.

These purchasers include private citizens, realtors, developers, and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Land Bank Authority. Some of the purchasers were out of state, including one company as far away as California.

Stonecrest Managers LLC, a private real estate investment and development company out of San Jose, Calif., purchased 18 properties at the auction. The company has holdings in other states as well as Georgia, which are improved and sold, a company representatives said Friday.

The Land Bank Authority, however, has plans to raze the four structures it purchased to facilitate the sale of the empty properties to affordable housing builders like Habitat for Humanity.

“This is the kind of property that we have previously worked on with Habitat for Humanity,” said Mara Register, Authority secretary and assistant to the city manager of Valdosta. “Vacant with dilapidated structures on them.”

Other owners are working to repair the units they have purchased, or demolishing for infill construction — building brand-new structures within established communities. In both cases, the improvements will bring the properties “back into good tax production,” Register said.

The Land Bank house at 520 Green Street has a notice of demolition tacked on its front door, and will likely be demolished today, according to Murray Gaskins Jr., President of Environmental Audit and Assessment, responsible for the demolition.

Gaskins’s company was at work tearing down a house nearby Friday at 509 Broad Street, one of the auctioned properties purchased by Stonecrest. Each demolished house is taken apart with care, with its materials portioned into metals, glass, and wood. Salvageable support beams and other wood is recycled and used again, while the rest of the wood is placed into a landfill, Gaskins said.

“We’re not allowed to burn the lumber,” Gaskins said. “It has to be put in an inert landfill. We recycle the concrete into GAB — graded aggregate base—and they build parking lots with it.”

The company works closely with Allgreen Services, the waste management company out of Hahira, to dispose of all building materials, Gaskins said.

The house at 912 North Oak Street, sold as-is with a fallen tree through the rear portion of the house, has seen significant refurbishment. The tree, about four feet thick, was removed at the trunk, the roof and wall re-built, the siding removed and interior vertical beams replaced, and work still continues.

Improvements to the house at 746 East Brookwood Drive were completed last week, according to a nearby resident claiming he would try to move into the house if he could. The house boasts a fresh coat of paint, a new black gravel driveway, grass seed on the dirt lawn and back yard and significant improvements to the interior.

“I think this is a great thing for the community,” Register said about the housing improvements. “Whenever you see private investment, it creates value, not only tangible value in the property, but it affects the value of the properties around it. A single house has the ability to raise the value of the adjacent properties in the neighborhoods themselves.”