INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis city officials tell Fox 59 they want to get the public’s trust back in the wake of the Indy Land Bank Scandal. As part of a public-private partnership, a new website has been created to sell more than 950 properties.
The properties are abandoned, vacant and tax-delinquent. The city purchased them in an effort to help rebuild struggling neighborhoods. However, Reggie Walton, the former head of Indy Land Bank, was arrested on federal charges.
Walton, and another former city employee, are accused of taking kickbacks and bribes. They are also accused of victimizing people who were already targets of another housing scam. Charges include wire fraud and bribery.
“It’s really disappointing to know that all of that was derailed for that time because of one person making poor choices,” said Jeff Roeder, a top official with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.
The city-county building was raided several months ago as federal authorities searched for evidence that would be used against those allegedly involved in the scam. Former heads of non-profits were also charged.
Roeder said they are now about to launch a website that will offer equal opportunity to those interested in purchasing the city’s properties. The process will also be more transparent, and there will be more checks and balances.
Several individuals and committees, that are made up of city officials and the public, will review the sales as part of a public-private partnership.
“You can look at the details on them [the properties]. You can send in an RFP for them, and you’re guaranteed to get a response,” said Jeff Miller, an Indianapolis city-county councilor who is also on one of the review committees.
He continued. “By getting these back in someone’s hands ,we now get property tax revenues, which helps us all, and we’re not paying to maintain it.”
Miller also mentioned additional procedures that guarantee more accountability: Buyers who do not see our their redevelopment or development plans will lose the property in question.
“Having that list of properties that anyone can access at any point in time is the biggest piece of the puzzle,” said Katy Brett of Renew Indianapolis, the nonprofit that will take on most of the responsibilities.
“We’re needing to move forward. These properties don’t get in better condition without ownership,” said Roeder.
The public website will go live in the first week of February.