LIMA - Before you know where you can go, you need to know what you've got.
That was the thinking behind a housing inventory being completed by Riverside North Neighborhood Association. The group is embarking on developing a master plan for the neighborhood. One of the first tasks has been to categorize assets and challenges, with housing stock at the top of the list for assessment.
Members were finalizing data from a housing inventory but a trend standing out to Denise Barnes was the number of vacant homes owned by out-of-town companies. Really out of town.
"The biggest thing is the number of homes owned by people and companies out of state," Barnes said. "These houses are being bought up by companies in California, New Jersey."
Barnes, the area's neighborhood nurse through a program with St. Rita's Medical Center, has worked in Riverside North 12 years. She also grew up there, and her family remains.
She and other volunteers, including residents at Springview Manor, walked streets and categorized homes in a sidewalk survey. The group is creating a database with the information, and will be able to produce lists, for example, of rental properties that are good candidates for rehabilitation.
An area of mostly pre-World War II housing, it's viewed as a gem by Riverside North members, filled with homes of character near some of the best assets of the city.
The neighborhood is bounded to the south by the Ottawa River, to the north by Market Street and on the east and west by Elizabeth Street and Jameson Avenue. Faurot Park, St. Rita's, Lima Public Library, Allen County Museum, YWCA and YMCA are all within walking distance of most of the area.
The number of houses falling into disrepair in the area concerns Barnes and other association members, and they believe they can do something about it, rather than simply complain, Barnes said.
They plan to market the neighborhood in hopes of partnering with others to restore homes.
"We've read about hospitals partnering to rehab houses in surrounding neighborhoods and then making them available to employees, who can then walk to work," Barnes said. "We hope to show what's possible."