KOKOMO - The city of Kokomo has announced a program designed to build new, market-rate houses on vacant or underused properties. Officials say the effort, led by the city and the Kokomo Community Development Corp., will enhance and revitalize existing urban neighborhoods. Mayor Greg Goodnight says the program fills a big need.

"Providing new housing options in already existing neighborhoods is a proven strategy for smart growth," he says. "These places already have streets and sewers, and receive police and fire protection. Almost every empty lot in these areas is a wasted opportunity. By building new homes in these neighborhoods we are increasing density, stabilizing or increasing existing property values, and enhancing the neighborhood appeal."

He says the urban infill program will include five different designs from Warsaw-based SRKM Architecture LLC. City officials call the effort a development and investment catalyst and say funds from the homes sales, which will be conducted on the open market, will help cover costs of building more homes. The first two will be located West Taylor and West Jefferson Streets on Kokomo's near west side.