Crime, codes among obstacles to revival

Sand Hills investors dismayed by snags

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Jim Herring saw potential in Sand Hills.

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Jim Herring has worked for the past two years to renovate a duplex that he purchased in Sand Hills. Recently, the property was broken into and its copper wiring and furnace were stolen, Herring says.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Jim Herring has worked for the past two years to renovate a duplex that he purchased in Sand Hills. Recently, the property was broken into and its copper wiring and furnace were stolen, Herring says.

The roughshod neighborhood is perfectly situated in the heart of upscale west Augusta. Surely, more investors would see the bargain, Herring thought as he purchased two duplexes and a house.

Reality was waiting for him Thursday afternoon when he found that someone had broken into one of the properties and cut open the walls to steal the copper wire. About 20 panels of wallboard also were missing.

What was meant to be an afternoon of fixing things up had just been stretched into more than a week of work.

"I thought the neighborhood could only go up, because of proximity to (Augusta State University), the country club, the Masters and the Hill," Herring wrote in an e-mail this week. "Unfortunately it seems every time I fix a window, two more get broke out."

In an interview, Herring said that apart from the crime, one of the problems to redeveloping rundown neighborhoods such as Sand Hills is a lack of interested property owners. Many of the houses are inherited by the grown children of the former owners, who want little do with the property until it's up for sale, Herring said.

As an example, he pointed out a burned-out house near the intersection of Mount Auburn Street and Burdshaw Lane that he had been interested in buying. Herring planned to tear it down and develop the land, but the four siblings who owned the property wanted $40,000 for it, he said.

The problem snowballed as code enforcement heaped liens and bills on it as the tax bill went unpaid and the city cut the grass. As a result, the potential buyer had to clear hurdles from the city and the owner, Herring said.

"That makes the property nearly impossible to sell because (the owner) thinks he's sitting on Grandpa's gold mine," Herring said.

Pam Costabile, Richmond County's code enforcement manager, said in an e-mail that the department sends notices to the owners of record. If it is owned by several people, "we work with them to get the issues resolved."

If the property owners refuse to cooperate or the building is "open, vacant and dilapidated," the building is taken to Public Officer Court and declared a nuisance. That opens the way for it to be demolished, she said.

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ConcernedTaxpayer 05/07/11 - 07:44 am
The home place becomes a

The home place becomes a sacred cow to some people. The have fond memories of growing up there, but are not interested in moving in and living there themselves. So the it let it fall into disrepair and what was once fashionable becomes unfashionable, but they still think it should be worth twice what it is really worth.

WW1949 05/07/11 - 09:59 am
My wife is a real estate

My wife is a real estate agent and had a piece of property listed and had a church and an investor interested in buying the property. The children of the owner moved to New York and demanded a hefty price for a house that was falling down. They must have thought it was a gold mine. Both sales fell apart and it hasn't sold yet-That was more than two years ago. Before that area can come back it will have to be cleaned up and the bad elements run away. Constant police patrol will do the latter.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 05/07/11 - 10:36 am
Money. On one hand you have

Money. On one hand you have investors, such as Mr. Herring, who want to pay a small amount for property that they can fix up, then rent or sell, to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that...that's the American way. However, on the other hand, you have people who don't care about the investor's motives, and all they want is to go in those places and STEAL things so they can make money. Everything wrong with that. This neighborhood has proven that it doesn't care to change, so it won't. Those miserable people will continue to live their miserable lives in their miserable surroundings. Sad because it doesn't have to be that way.

Riverman1 05/07/11 - 11:21 am
My slogan kind of fits this

My slogan kind of fits this photo.

You can paint a cinder block pastel pink, but it's still a cinder block.

countyman 05/07/11 - 01:01 pm
Several old neighborhoods in

Several old neighborhoods in the area are turning around.. There's too much money surrounding Sand Hills so the future is bright... Dealing with property crime is alot better than violent crimes.. College students at ASU, MCG, and Paine students need apartments and duplexes to live in..

The Olde Town neighborhood outside of downtown is on the edge of completely gentrifying.. There's areas on maybe three streets who need more renovations done..

The raggedy side of Harrisburg is coming back to life.. The Kroc Center, Broad Mill Village, 5 acre park on the canal, First Stop Village, Eve street Row, and the Martha Lester school is alot of construction. The Sibely Mill will eventually be sold sooner or later..

The proximity of Laney Walker to the Medical District and CBD helps this neighborhood tremendously.... Then add on the new homes, lights, townhomes, and business center...

dani 05/07/11 - 02:06 pm
It remains a crying shame to

It remains a crying shame to see a person working hard trying to make a living and some dead beat ruins it for him.
Somebody, someplace, is buying these stolen goods while perfectly aware that it is illegal. One kind of crook is no better than the other.

crackertroy 05/07/11 - 02:54 pm
Just watch, Sand Hills is on

Just watch, Sand Hills is on it's way up, nothing easy though

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 05/07/11 - 04:02 pm
Crime is taking out whole

Crime is taking out whole neiborhoods & the surrounding businesses as it goes. We estimate that over 10,000 people have been left unemployed by crime. If you're unemployed thank the gangster thugs walking all out in the middle of the road for you losing your job or your business.

Lawpig 05/07/11 - 07:02 pm
10,000 people? Where do they

10,000 people? Where do they live? 10,000 in Richmond County? Aiken? Georgia? South Carolina? What methodology did you use?

Sand Hills is straight up scary. It makes Harrisburg look like Evans. I feel bad for anyone trying to revitalize it.

TK3 05/08/11 - 09:17 am
Lot of trouble to pick up a

Lot of trouble to pick up a house and carry it somewhere; "the building is taken to.." and what agency set this, so called "court", up ?; "..Public Officer Court and declared a nuisance. " Where is the neighborhood watch or cop squatter squad ?


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