Joliet wants to unload vacant lots

City plans to negotiate with next-door neighbors to sell 173 vacant parcels

The city of Joliet owns property it doesn’t want and is looking to make deals – at least with neighbors.

A City Council committee this week agreed that the city should start moving unwanted property at less than appraised value, and neighbors of those lots are likely to be contacted.

Joliet has 173 such lots that it would like to sell and lists them on Department of Economic Development section of the city website as part of the effort to attract buyers, Economic Development Director Derek Conley told the committee on Wednesday. The lots primarily were acquired as condemned properties after being declared nuisances, he said.

“It’s the city’s responsibility to go out and mow them and take care of them,” Conley told the Economic Development Committee. “We would like to get away from doing that.”

Conley said he would like to move away from the past policy of only selling lots at appraised value in order to move more vacant property.

Committee members agreed.

“Let’s sell these things,” Council member Joe Clement said. He added, “I’m not saying give them away.”

Council members said the city should be cautious about reducing property prices for buyers who may look to turn the lots for a quick profit. But they agreed to negotiating with next-door neighbors who want them.

“If they have the means to purchase the property, let’s do everything we can to get rid of it,” Clement said.

Committee Chairman Larry Hug said reduced-price sales to neighbors should be made on the condition that they attach the parcels to their own properties. He said the city could consider selling lots at reduced prices to people who don’t live next door on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ve got to find a more creative way to move them if they’re not moving at appraised value,” Hug said.

Conley said he would begin by sending letters to neighbors on each side of the 173 parcels to see if they’re interested in buying them.

The city has more than 173 empty parcels but either is using the other lots or has plans to use them, he said.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News