Hasta La Vista

919 47th street’s years as a crime den may soon be in the rearview mirror after an action by the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners this week. The commissioners moved forward with a foreclosure action that will see the property taken from the current owner and sold. 

The property, home to an unknown number of people, several derelict vehicles, a dumpster in disrepair, and several tents, will receive renewal or demolishment in the near future, because of the action. 

Community members called the Sheriff’s Office (the home is not within city limits) almost 130 times between 2017 and 2022. On May 2, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team raided the home in connection to a drug overdose death. The suspect, Patrick Mulcahy, was released from jail in November after the district attorney’s office refused to prosecute him based on the evidence against him. That’s referred to in legal jargon as ‘Nolle Prosequi’ for all you Latin fans out there. 

 

"With our area’s housing shortage, any property that can be restored and have someone put into it is a net benefit for our community."
John Sallman
Broker, Salt and Light Realty

Before the raid, on April 6th, 2022, another person was arrested for drug crime at the home. That person, Richard ‘Rikki’ Giles, was convicted on Febuary 15th for Aggravated Battery. 

If you’ve been on Concerned Citizens of Niceville Lately, you’ll notice that the posters on the message board do not universally love the house and its current occupants. This action has a chance of giving the posters what they want – new ownership and less blight. 

“It’s like a cancer, literally,” said Okaloosa County Growth Management Department Director Elliot Kampert. “That’s what blight causes. One person’s rental property starts to go down, then the next person three doors down, whose got rental properties. They set the standard. It can spread, basically. If you’ve got a cluster of houses that aren’t being well-maintained, then the general neighborhood starts to go down.”

Real Estate Broker John Sallman, with Salt and Light Realty says getting this home foreclosed on means a step forward for the community on Fir Avenue. “Having been a local for a while and helping people buy and sell houses – a property like that getting restored is a great thing to see. It will provide housing for someone who needs it. With our area’s housing shortage, any property that can be restored and have someone put into it is a net benefit for our community.”

A view from the south of 919 47th street in February of 2023. The home has had 129 police, fire and ems calls in the period between 2017 and 2022.

Now what?

So now what happens?

Well, the county has to sell the land. The county is not in the real estate business, so they will try to sell it to someone on the condition that the land is cleaned up. 

Before that – the legal rigamarole has to be taken care of – so the Okaloosa County Growth Management will ferry the property through the courts system to make sure they can own it free and clear. 

The vote on Tuesday allows the county employees to start the paperwork to take the home from the current owners. That process, Kampert says, will take about a month. After that, the process will go to court – and this is where the timeline could be really short or really long. In the best case scenario, the courts take the property case onto their docket of cases – and the county could see swift resolution. But, if there is a severe backlog like there can be in the American courts system, then it will get held for a panel of senior judges. Because of mandatory retirement for judges in Florida, there are some judges who are out of work but can still volunteer their time to help with the court’s backlog. These judges receive less complex cases, according to Kampert, like this one. Because it revolves around volunteers, this program can take a lot longer. 

After foreclosure proceedings, the property will be put on the auction block. The county will have to give notice and anyone who wants to bid on the property can, provided they promise to clean up the property. Even the county can bid on the land – which typically only happens if the situation is so bad the county considers it an immediate danger. This takes place for any property worth more than $15,000 that comes into the county’s possession.  

Ultimately, the county will put the parcel of land onto the auction block – though that won’t happen for several months while the property’s paperwork marches through the legal system. 

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

man standing and speaking at a podium.
Elliot Kampert is the Okaloosa County Growth Management Director. He's among the many who are thrilled to see the home go into foreclosure, and hopes the blight can be removed from the neighborhood just to the south of Northwest Florida State College quickly.

How did this house get in such bad shape, anyway?

Drugs are bad (very incisive, I know). And it looks like they played a starring role in the downfall of this property from the average home in Niceville’s unincorporated area to the state it’s currently in. In addition to the ESU (SWAT) action in May of 2022, the house had 911 calls for… 

  • Suspicious Activity
  • Watch Order
  • Suicide (2)
  • Fire 
  • Shots Fired (3)
  • Fraud
  • Animal Incidents
  • 911 Verifications
  • Breathing Problems
  • Fall
  • Agency Assists
  • Warrants (11)
  • Disturbances (8)
  • K-9 Assist (5)
  • Burglary (4)
  • Security Check
  • Landlord/Tenant Dispute
  • Stroke
  • Theft (6)
  • Chest Pain (2)
  • Trespassing
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • DUI
  • Unattended Death 
  • Threats
  • Narcotics
  • Overdoses
  • Heart Problems
  • Indecent Exposure

According to the property appraiser’s office – the home has had a single owner, Charles and Pauline Rice and the heirs, since 1968. 

The owners added several additions to the three-bedroom, two bathroom house over the 50 or so years its been in their name. The Okaloosa County Property Appraiser even has it assessed for more than $250,000 in value. 

The realistic sale price – as is – might be higher than that. Realtor Tracy Jennette says the home, once cleaned up, would probably sell for between $250,000 and $275,000. Once it’s fixed up – it could go for $100,000 more. “It has good bones,” Jennette said, “It looks like it just wasn’t looked after for the last couple of years.”

The property is not homesteaded, which means the county will have a much easier time declaring the property a blight on the community and taking possession of it.

Download our app to stay in the know about niceville