House of Pride transfers four properties to city

 

DOVER — House of Pride, a housing and counseling program for men, has been a fixture in the Dover community since 1989.

Now, the organization hopes to start a new chapter after transferring four of its properties to the city.

The transfers were approved at a special council meeting last month.

The deal to transfer some properties to the city of Dover will put the House of Pride on a more solid financial footing, executive director Marion Lott said. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

The deal to transfer some properties to the city of Dover will put the House of Pride on a more solid financial footing, executive director Marion Lott said. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

The properties are located at 105, 106, 110 and 115 S. New St. Two of the parcels have structures on them (105 and 115) and the other two are vacant lots.

“It’s a great opportunity for us and we’re seizing the moment,” said Marion Lott, executive director of House of Pride.

The two houses, one that serves as the main office for House of Pride at 105 S. New St., and the other an apartment building with four units at 115 S. New St., have an assessed value of about $237,000.

As part of the deal, vacant lots at 106 and 110 S. New St. will be donated to the city. The vacant lots come with liens of more than $59,000, said Ann Marie Townshend, the city’s director of planning and community development.

In exchange for the donation, liens on the properties will be forgiven.

Mr. Lott said the transaction will help reduce the non-profit organization’s overall debt.

“This is a community-based organization,” he said. “But in 2013 it was $300,000 dollars in debt. We’re in the process of reducing the debt, as that will help us operate better without a financial burden.

“Some of the money will go directly to the bank. That will help reduce our loan,” he said.

“We can reconstruct it, which will help put us in the position where our mortgage can be reconstructed at a much lower rate,” Mr. Lott added.

He said last year they wouldn’t have even thought about selling the properties.

“I don’t want people to think we were forced by the city to sell the properties,” Mr. Lott said. “It was what was best for us. Everything just came at the right time.

“The direction that we’re moving in, in conjunction with what the city is doing, fits in with what we need to do. We were able to capitalize on it.”

The sales won’t be completed until everyone living in those buildings is moved out.

Ms. Townshend said they have about 60 days to do so.

Mr. Lott said they are currently in the process of relocating everyone so the transfer of the properties won’t displace any members of House of Pride.

“The building that we’re giving up houses five people,” Mr. Lott said. “We’ve already found a place for two of the individuals and if push comes to shove we have places where we can house the others so no one is displaced by the sale.”

Mr. Lott said House of Pride plans to use the funds to renovate other properties.

“We have other properties that we can fix up,” he said. “That will help us a lot. This gives us the needed cash flow to complete other renovations. That’s the direction that we’re moving in.”

The city plans to do the same, as well. City council, during a Sept. 14 special council meeting, unanimously approved the demolition of the properties at 105 S. New St. and 115 S. New St.

“Those properties have a lot of structural damage,” Ms. Townshend said. “It’s best for us to demolish those properties, which will help us with our Restoring Central Dover plan.”

The Restoring Central Dover Initiative is led by NCALL with a steering committee made up of stakeholders throughout the community.

The plan represents the community’s vision for vitality in the downtown area, which includes economic development, increasing homeownership, and keeping neighborhoods safe.

Mr. Lott said he’s fine with the city’s decisions moving forward.

“The governor and the city have put a lot of money into restoring downtown,” he said. “This area has been saturated with opportunity.”

City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. believes the situation is unfortunate.

“He worked so hard to provide a drug and alcohol addiction-treatment center for those people in need,” Councilman Sudler said.

“I think it’s unfortunate for the community. We need programs like that to help people that are struggling with those types of problems.”

But he hopes the city will use the properties to spearhead a program to help the homeless.

“I would like for the city to put the properties to good use,” Councilman Sudler said. “I would like to see a homeless program that helps these people in need.

“They can maybe fix up the homes and allow these people to stay there up to a certain point until they get back on their feet. I think we should utilize those properties.”

Mr. Lott said the nonprofit organization plans to continue to serve the community.

“The city will put these properties to good use,” he said.

“It will help redevelop downtown, but we are still going to serve the underprivileged and assist our community where we can. ”

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