244 Newark Road kitchen after restoration

Ben's Properties completed renovations on the fire-damaged home at 244 Newark Road ahead of schedule. Restoration included removing and relocating walls. This contemporary kitchen is just one of many improvements showcased in the final product.

MOUNT VERNON — The restoration of the vacant, charred eyesore at 244 Newark Road is what Jeff Gottke, president of the Knox County Land Bank, calls “textbook land bank operations.”

“This is exactly what the land bank is for,” he said of the restored three-bedroom, two-bath, single-family home.

The land bank acquired the property through a sheriff's deed in August 2019. Ben's Properties bought the parcel in October 2019 and had six months to complete the renovations. Now that renovations are complete, the land bank will release its lien on the property.

The house originally had three bedrooms and one full bath. It had heavy fire damage, but the fire was almost all on the second floor. Restoration involved removing and moving walls. Gottke said that basically everything is new except for the framing and the post for the stair rail.

Renovations include a new addition with a full bath on the back, a new deck on the back, a bedroom added downstairs, and a full bath added upstairs.

In addition to the restoration value, Gottke said the home fits the workforce housing needs of the city. Workforce housing is housing priced in the mid-$100,000 range.

Next week, the land bank will acquire two more troublesome properties: 517 E. Burgess St. and 807 N. Mulberry St. Both properties are tax delinquent; one is in foreclosure.

Gottke said they were targeted because of the number of police calls and EPA and nuisance violations. One of the apartment units at 807 N. Mulberry St. was declared a nuisance by the court and was boarded up for a time.

The land bank plans to demolish the structure at 517 E. Burgess St. The ultimate disposition of the house on North Mulberry is unknown at this time.

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