Guilford County has taken action against Glenwood investor Bulent Bediz this month in the form of foreclosure proceedings and impounding Bediz’s many abandoned vehicles.

After years of back and forth and multiple lawsuits, Guilford County is taking action against Glenwood investor Bulent Bediz, who owns dozens of homes that are now under foreclosure, condemned or scheduled to be demolished.

Bediz, an artist and architect-turned rental housing provider, has lived in Greensboro’s Glenwood neighborhood for decades. In the mid-1990s he began buying up properties and, by 2007, had amassed 70 properties. In 2008, he declared bankruptcy.

According to data from the Guilford County Tax Department, Bediz currently owns 35 properties, all scattered throughout Glenwood, many of them on Lexington Avenue, where he also resides. All but one are residential properties.

A map of Bulent’s properties from 2017. (file image)

Bediz said he began buying houses with the goal of creating an artist community in south Greensboro, and has claimed in the past to have run out of money after being sabotaged by city staffers and expansion by UNCG past Gate City Boulevard in 2016.

Bediz declined to comment for this story, saying the timing wasn’t right because of an in-production documentary that he said will tell his full story.

On Tuesday afternoon, an auction for one of Bulent’s properties took place — the first sale from a long list of foreclosures.

Now, 917 Gregory St. sits as a vacant lot in between two homes situated across the street from Steelman Park.

While there used to be a house here years ago, the owners of the home next door say that it was torn down by the city and that they’ve been mowing the grass on the lot for the last six or seven months.

At the auction on Tuesday, no third parties placed bids on the lot, resulting in the city placing a default bid of $24,174.13 — the opening bid — on the property. Now, a 10-day upset bid process takes effect in which any third parties can bid on the property. Bediz can also redeem the property up to the point of confirmation of sale, if he pays the outstanding back taxes.

For the past few years, Bediz has been accumulating a heavy load of back taxes on his properties. On Monday, he paid off close to $23,000 in back taxes for properties that were scheduled to be auctioned off in August. He also paid about $37,000 in back taxes earlier this month. As of Tuesday evening, Bediz still owes $165,267.75 for his remaining 19 properties.

A 2017 TCB report also found that Bediz had acquired dozens of junk cars with the intention of hiring a mechanic to fix them up for resale, but Bediz claimed that an arrangement to lease a garage free of charge from UNCG fell through. He ended parking the cars behind his rental houses, which led to complaints from neighbors and a drawn-out code enforcement battle with the city.

The city’s Code Violations & Compliance tracker shows that more than 60 cars parked on Bediz’s various properties had been court ordered to be towed and impounded by the city this month.

For years, Bediz’s neighbors have lamented his ownership and buy-up of properties in Glenwood. They say that neglect has resulted in the houses falling into disrepair, resulting in pests and multiple code violations. Yellow notices on several of Bediz’s properties, including his place of residence, on Monday listed violations such as an accumulation of garbage, dense weeds and an environment for pests like rats and other pests.

Many of Bulent’s properties have code violations. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Liz Seymour, who has lived on Lexington Avenue for the past decade, said she understands what Bediz set out to do, but that the current conditions of his homes are unacceptable.

“He’s fixed on this dream of using [these houses] in a certain way,” Seymour said. “But he’s lost sight of how it’s impacting the neighborhood. Most of them are empty, many are condemned, and most are in foreclosure because he has stopped paying property taxes on them. That has had a big impact on the neighborhood in several ways. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars that has not been collected. That affects everyone in Guilford County.”

Seymour also says there has been a decrease in the values of the homes in the neighborhood because of the number of foreclosures and condemned housing.

“That has a real impact if people go to refinance,” she said. “Or if someone is trying to sell their home, it’s suddenly worth less than a couple of years ago.”

Seymour said that when she purchased her home in 2011, she paid $65,000. When she checked on the popular house-listing website Zillow six months ago, it had dropped to $48,000. A quick check on the website on Wednesday showed that her house value had gone up to $57,485, still $7,000 less than the price she bought it for.

Even so, Seymour expressed that she sympathized with Bediz’s initial motives.

“That’s certainly not what Bulent set out to do,” she said. “He set out to do something positive for the neighborhood but got derailed. I don’t know how this all happened.”

Other homeowners in the aren’t as understanding.

Mitzi Griffin, who lives on Glenwood Avenue, has lived in the area for the last 31 years. She said she doesn’t understand why Bediz won’t sell his properties considering that he can’t afford to fix them up anymore.

“It’s like he’s a hoarder,” she said. “I have no idea what this man is doing.”

Dozens of cars sit in the parking lot of Bulent’s only commercial property. TCB found more than 60 of Bulent’s cars had been court ordered to be towed and impounded by the city this month. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Griffin said that after UNCG bought up many of Bediz’s homes to make way for the new student recreation center in 2016, the value of most of the homes in the neighborhood dropped drastically. She claims hers went down to what it was when she bought it 30 years ago.

“He single-handedly took down this neighborhood,” Griffin said.

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, who runs a commercial real estate business, meets with Glenwood residents regularly and said he has been waiting for the city and county to take action against Bediz.

“My plan is to follow-up all the way through,” he said on Monday. “’Til every last one of them is taken care of. No more delays; no more putting off because it’s been going on too long.”

As a real estate investor himself, Alston said that he has experience buying properties with the hopes to resell them. But he says that Bediz hasn’t done that with his properties.

“He’s just been sitting on them,” he said. “Allowing them to deteriorate. This devalues their property. It’s a blight in the community.”

When told that Bediz is paying off of some of his back taxes, Alston said that while that’s good news, it’s not enough.

“If he doesn’t fix them up, it doesn’t help the neighborhood,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to go through this.”