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Neighbors happy City of Rock Island is buying abandoned house

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois-- A Rock Island woman moved into her new house on 44th Street just four months ago. But she said it didn't take long to notice the house across the street.

"The squirrels have been up there, climbing along the front part of it," Nadine Ross told WQAD. "The longer I was here and the longer I looked at it, it was pretty rundown."

The "green house" on 44th Street has broken windows and the doors are boarded up. Ross had to call the city to come mow the lawn and cut down weeds that had grown several feet tall.

"I'm happy with this area," Ross said. "It's when people don't mow their yards or different things. Then it just makes it look bad."

The City of Rock Island is now buying the rundown house. The City Council voted unanimously Monday, Sept. 10 to buy two abandoned houses and 14 abandoned lots. It'll cost the city $14,442.

These properties are "abandoned" since the owners haven't been paying their taxes. The city can buy the properties ahead of a public tax auction on Oct. 9, 2018.

Alderman Dylan Parker said 16 properties were strategically chosen to fit the city's redevelopment goals.

"We like to try to get ahold of them [lots with houses] and see if they are able to be redeveloped," Parker explained. "If they are structurally sound and safe, we can work with the private construction industry to solicit a bid to redevelop, to renovate, rehab the property, so then we go from a blighted vacant property to another home in our neighborhood."

After the makeover, the houses are more desirable and can be sold to bring in more property taxes. Parker said the empty lots can attract developers.

"If we own three lots on a particular block and there's a fourth one right next door available, we might consider buying that so then we can try to sell it to a developer as having all four blocks so they can do some sort of large, redevelopment project," he said.

The alderman added that when one house gets fixed up and improved, it encourages others living in the neighborhood to do the same, improving the whole neighborhood.

Ross seems to agree.

"[The house across the street] kind of deters you from wanting to do something nice with your own house when you have to look at something when I know there are bugs and rodents and everything else."

Now, neighbors say they're ready to see something done to the house next door.

"It just sits empty," Linda Hoffman said. "If they cut the tree down and fix it up, maybe somebody would rent it or buy it."

Nearly 40 other properties will be up for auction in October.