The town of Salemi, on the Italian island of Sicily, is seeking to revitalize itself by auctioning off abandoned homes with bids starting at $1.18. File Photo by Franco Lannino/EPA
Oct. 26 (UPI) -- An Italian town is looking to draw in new visitors by auctioning off abandoned houses with opening bids of just over $1.
The town of Salemi, in Sicily, announced it will auction off dozens of abandoned homes that have fallen into disrepair for $1.18.
Mayor Domenico Venuti said the scheme is part of efforts to revitalize the town, which has seen its population continue to dwindle after about 4,000 residents left the area after a 1968 earthquake.
"All buildings belong to the City Council, which speeds up the sale and reduces red tape," Venuti told CNN. "Before launching the scheme we first had to recover the old parts of Salemi where the houses are located, upgrading infrastructures and services from roads to electric grids and sewage pipes.
"Now the town is ready for the next step."
Venuti said the plan has been in the works for several years, but was stalled due to issues including infrastructure and zoning complications.
"It was a long process," he said. "Not only did we carry out thorough maintenance works to secure the risky crumbly areas, we also had to recover many properties to residential use. We've been ready for a while but wanted to wait and see how the COVID-19 emergency evolved."
Italy was an early hot spot for the coronavirus pandemic, but Sicily had remained one of the last impacted regions in the country.
The mayor said interested buyers will not be required to visit the town before purchasing a property, but they will be asked to submit detailed renovation plans to prove they are committed to the revitalization effort.