The Olhausen Trailer Court, encompassing approximately seven acres of land on the east side of a frontage road on U.S. Highway 59 South in Cherokee, is in the process of being purchased by the Cherokee Industrial Corporation.
The CIC reportedly seeks the land - currently termed "blighted" in the City's proposed Cherokee South Urban Renewal Plan - for future redevelopment for resale for commercial or light industrial development.
According to City reports, the "dilapidated tract" housing the trailer court has been for sale for $150,000 by owner Keith Olhausen for several months. However, the sale price was recently lowered to $75,000 because the owners were in the process of acquiring a new residence. The CIC wants to buy the land to insure that it was not purchased by someone who would continue to use it as a "rundown trailer court" and/or store "other junk" on the property.
Mark Buschkamp, Director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC), has asked the CIC Board to authorize an option to purchase the property.
The City has agreed to explore the creation of a new Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) that would ultimately pay for the purchase and redevelopment for resale of the land for commercial or light industrial development. The "TIF" tool is used by cities to prompt public improvements that result in private investment that ultimately pay off the public improvement with the increased taxable value of the property. The City has used TIF on several occasions in the past to make street and utility improvements, among other projects.
The proposed Cherokee Urban Renewal Plan that identifies the Olhausen Trailer court as a blighted area was developed to help local officials promote economic development in Cherokee and to eliminate conditions of blight and deterioration. The goal is to stimulate, through public involvement and commitment, private investment in new commercial/industrial development. Eliminating blighted areas will help achieve that goal.
According to the Plan, the 7-acre trailer court site contains 15-20 abandoned/dilapidated trailer homes beyond the point of rehabilitation. The area also contains eight trailer homes that are currently occupied.
The Plan specifies that the area is designed for blight remediation due to the presence of a substantial number of deteriorated or deteriorating structures, defective or inadequate street layout, faulty lot layout, deterioration of sites, and the existence of conditions that endanger property by various causes.
"Such conditions substantially impair or arrest the sound growth of the City, retard the provision of housing accommodations, constitute an economic or social liability, and are a menace to the public health, safety and welfare of the City...," reads the Plan.
In total, the City plans to provide financial assistance to the CIC to acquire the land, to relocate the individuals living in the eight occupied trailers, clear the property, and prepare the site for new commercial/industrial development.
The City may also consider providing financial assistance to developers as an incentive to promote new and expanding business development and employment opportunities in the area.
The process is a four-step procedure with City Council approval needed at each juncture for it to progress to fruition and ultimately create the TIF District that will allow the financing for the project.