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A Dream Come True

August 19, 2020 Projects

For Vicki Smith, becoming an owner is a dream come true.

Vicki lives on a quiet block of Buckingham Street in the Junction neighborhood. Potted plants decorate the classic brick columns on her porch. It's a perfect place to sit, relax, and enjoy the neighborhood.

While on that porch, she kept a watchful eye on the three houses that sat empty on her block. One on either side of her, and one more after that.

"Raggedy houses and falling in," she said in her one-of-a-kind style during a recent interview. "Too many for anyone to have to deal with by themselves."

One of them stood out to her, though, and she knew that if it ever came up for sale, she'd buy it and fix it up.

So it came as a welcomed surprise when the Land Bank took ownership of the property in 2018 after it was forfeited, and offered it for sale. This was it - this was her chance! She jumped on it. The project wasn't going to be easy, and everyone knew it.

To help make the project work financially, the Land Bank made a small matching grant available so she could afford to what was needed to make the property a home again. It was money well spent, because Ms. Smith was the only buyer who stepped up with a realistic plan.

In the meantime, the Land Bank was able to take control of the other two abandoned homes that couldn't be saved and tear them down. One of them was so close to the house Vicki was renovating, the gutters almost touched.

But no longer. The demolition of these blighted houses created new open spaces, and the Land Bank worked with Ms. Smith to install a fence and plantings to tie the whole site together.

"It looks so pretty, you want to sit out more and tell the neighbors. It's nice," she said.

Around the same time as the demolition, Vicki finished her renovation project. She passed the Land Bank's inspection and proved the house was safe, functional, and ready for people once again. According to her, the worst part was how long it all took. But in the end, it was time well spent.

"Owning this home and these lots is a dream come true," she beamed. "I've been telling people about the Land Bank - I say 'call them,' they'll help you too."

This story is the fourth in a series as we Countdown to 1500 and showcase some of the great people who are working with the Land Bank to transform their lives and their neighborhoods.

See more in a story from The Blade