City may take on renovations

File/Staff
Roger LeDuc: City Manager said the three- to five-year plan to renovate about 150 homes on the north side could start as early as May.

AIKEN --- Aiken City Council members gave initial approval Monday night to a $1.5 million plan to renovate about 150 homes in the north side's Crosland Park neighborhood.

They voted unanimously on a first reading of the proposal; one more reading is required April 13.

"It's a very huge undertaking by the city and numerous nonprofit agencies (primarily churches) in the revitalization and renewal of Crosland Park," City Manager Roger LeDuc said in an e-mail, adding that the renovated homes would either be sold or rented.

Crosland Park was built in the 1950s as housing for employees at Savannah River Site. The neighborhood has had problems with crime in recent years, officials have said.

Gary Yount, the president of the Crosland Neighborhood Association, said he's looking forward to working with the city on the new plan.

"As an association, we're excited about what's going to happen," he said.

Income-eligible buyers could receive up to $20,000 off the sales price of the renovated homes, Mr. LeDuc said.

With respect to rental property, churches that are participating would be asked to keep the cost at a set price, allowing low-income families a shot. He also said not all of the homes being renovated are empty.

"We will need to relocate families to another location if they are still living there when we are ready to renovate," he said.

Mr. LeDuc said at the meeting the process could begin as early as the end of May and that it ultimately would be a three- to five-year plan.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.