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The Jefferson City Housing Authority's "you may be acquired" letters to owners of property in the East Capitol Avenue Urban Renewal Plan Area brought a wave of mailed responses, Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch reported Monday.

The Housing Authority, known as JCHA in city shorthand, mailed 46 registered letters to 15 different property owners Jan. 25, informing them their structures "may be acquired" during the East Capitol Area Urban Renewal Plan. The addressees had until close of business Friday, Feb. 10, to voluntarily respond to the letters.

Quetsch said the JCHA received replies from 11 of those 15.

Surprised? "No, I'm not surprised," Quetsch said. "It's about what I would have guessed."

Three of the respondents are from owner-occupied properties in the East Capitol corridor, and none of them is interested in moving or selling, Quetsch said.

The JCHA Board of Commissioners will meet Feb. 21 and will determine then what its next step is in handling the range of respondents. "The board really hasn't decided what the next step is, what they'll do and how they'll do it," Quetsch said. The respondents include those in that owner-occupied niche, and others who are property managers or landlords and a third category of owners who are neither landlords or living in the properties.

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At a well-attended session Jan. 30 at City Hall, the JCHA and the City Council conducted a rare joint meeting to discuss the East Capitol Urban Renewal Plan. At its conclusion, the JCHA selected five of the 46 properties as its first targets for renovation — if possible.

They were the same five which had been selected by residents who attended an earlier meeting at which a public straw poll was conducted of the properties. Those five are at 105 Jackson, 500 E. Capitol, 108 Jackson, 401 E. Capitol and 103 Jackson. The first four on that list are owned by Barbara Buescher, 429 E. Capitol, and the fifth is owned by Steven J. and Cheryl M. Bratten, 2523 Twin Hills Road.

When asked if Buescher and the Brattens were among those responding to the "you may be acquired" letters, Quetsch said she had received the U.S. Postal Service registered mail "green cards" back from the two without receiving a formal indication of the recipients' reaction to the letters. Steven Bratten is a Jefferson City attorney who, at one time, listed an office at the 103 Jackson address.

At least, Quetsch believes Buescher replied. "The green card came back with a squiggle that I cannot read, so I do not know who signed it," she said. "The assumption is that it was signed by the addressee or an authorized agent or the Post Office would not have given them the letter," Quetsch said.

The next step on the JCHA timeline for the East Capitol Urban Renewal is March 21, when it has stipulated it would issue offers to purchase properties from the owners on the list of 46 receiving the "you may be purchased" letters. She said the JCHA board, led by Cole County Collector Larry Vincent, faces what she anticipates will be a lengthy meeting next week and another previously-scheduled meeting on March 21 before those offers may, or may not, be made.

Meanwhile, Moore & Shryock Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants LLC has begun its work analyzing the properties on that top five list, per a contract with the JCHA.

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