BY ALICIA ROBINSON
STAFF WRITER
arobinson@pe.com

Published: 22 May 2012 05:09 PM

Riverside officials say they expect to recover only a portion of the $49.44 million that the former redevelopment agency spent to buy 80 pieces of land that are now up for sale.

Some residents are frustrated by the predicted loss and critical of the former redevelopment agency for buying parcels and letting them sit idle, in some cases for six or seven years.

But redevelopment supporters argue that buying the properties allowed the agency to eliminate crime-ridden or rundown houses and businesses, benefits it’s hard to put a price on.

Under the state law that ended redevelopment, the city is required to put the bulk of its former redevelopment agency’s assets up for sale. Now officials are trying to sell 80 properties, broken into 26 groups of one or more parcels.

The city made a deal earlier this month to sell a parcel on Magnolia Avenue for $550,000. The redevelopment agency had paid $1.82 million to buy the land in 2007.

The sale price of other properties likely won’t be known until the city has them appraised.

“There will be an economic loss, there is no question, to the taxpayers of Riverside,” Councilman Mike Gardner said at a May 8 council meeting.

Of the remaining groups of properties, among the most costly were three groups on different corners of the Five Points intersection in La Sierra that cost a total of $10.2 million, and six parcels on Merrill Avenue across from Riverside Plaza that the agency paid $6.2 million to acquire.

The properties aren’t likely to fetch as much as they cost when the agency bought them partly because most had something on them — a business or a house, for example — that increased their value, Gardner said by phone Tuesday. There may also have been costs to relocate businesses or residents and demolish whatever was on the site.

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