The properties include:
- 4, 129 and 139 Oak St.
- 64, 68, 70 and 90 North Avondale Road
- 6 and 19 Lake St.
- 3612 Franklin St.
The properties were owned by Century/AG LLC, which planned a development project that later stalled.
"Purchasing these four acres provides the city with some flexibility and leverage in the future development of the downtown area," Mayor Ed Rieker said in a statement.
"It also helps to reset and establish new norms for the cost of property in the downtown area which will make it more feasible for quality development to occur."
Indeed, the city acquired the land at a steep discount, underscoring how far some commercial real estate values have fallen in recent years.
When Century purchased the tracts in 2007, it paid $10.9 million collectively for them, or about $2.7 million per acre.
This past past September, they were appraised at $2.2 million.
The acquisition coincides with the city's revitalization plan of its downtown, which, included luring some new developments such as the Pallookaville restaurant and others, as well as making some legislative changes.
In his statement, Rieker noted the city has hired a municipal planner, took the permitting process and fire code inspections back in-house and streamlined City Hall red tape.
But at the core of the city's efforts is its Downtown Master Plan, which it has been working on for the past several months.
It expected to be adopted as the development guideline in early 2014.
"While it helps to have a plan, and a collaborative community/government, it also requires thoughtful, quality developers/businesses to purchase land and invest in new developments," the mayor said.
"The expectation is that over the next year or so the city will begin to discuss and collaborate with a variety of potential development partners who will help our community to continue to reshape and improve our downtown."