Bonita Springs willing to buy homes along streets with flood issues

A city in Southwest Florida wants to buy people’s homes and is looking to get state money to do it. It’s all in effort at an attempt to provide some relief to homeowners who are living on a major floodplain.

Bonita Springs city leaders know the problems people living on Quinn Street and Downs Drive experience with flooding, especially during Hurricane Irma in 2017. In effort to offer help, the city is willing to buy homes along Quinn and Downs from any homeowner who wants to sell.

“It’s raining at night,” said Cynthia Mares, a Quinn St. homeowner. “You don’t know if you’re going to get up, and you can’t get out of your house.”

The people who live on Quinn St. in Bonita Springs will never forget Irma. Even summer rain is making homeowners along the local road anxious about how much water might fill up the street.

“It’s hard now because insurance went so high,” Mares said. “And some places, they don’t want to take you because they know this is a really high risk.”

Quinn and Downs run close to the Imperial River, which threatens to spill over when it rains. Bonita hopes to get the money from a state grant and promises to buy homes at market value.

But local realtor Scott Riddle told us that could mean homeowners taking less.

“Assessed value and real value is probably about 60-70 percent of the real value of the home,” Riddle said. “It’s great if you’re desperate. But if you’re not desperate, then you’re not getting the best deal possible.”

As it stands, the city’s plan is nowhere near completion. Cities statewide are competing for a chunk of a $75 million state grant. If Bonita gets the money and buy the homes, the city would then make plans for what to do with the property.

Mares thinks the idea sounds good, but the price would have to be right.

“I don’t want to have that bad experience again,” Mares said. “If they give a low price, I cannot build another house for me.”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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