A blighted home in the Post Addition came down Thursday morning as county officials work to demolish eyesores during what’s been described as a great year for grants.
Crews on Thursday morning took an excavator to the 1,624-square-foot, three-bedroom home at 87 High St., a property that Krista Trout-Edwards said was in poor condition when its ownership reverted to the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority in 2012.
“The issue with holding houses is that they do get broken into,” said Trout-Edwards, the land bank’s executive director. “So we board them and secure them. It’s a constant vigil — we work with city code officers and occasionally, public safety, to make sure that’s happening.
Photos attached to the city of Battle Creek’s online property data from 2006 show the home, built in 1910, with a manicured lawn and attractive green trim. But on Thursday, the house was plagued by boarded-up windows and faded and mismatched paint. It was slated for demolition when it was put into the land bank’s name because of a property tax foreclosure, and has suffered break-ins.
“These are attractive nuisances,” said Christine Schauer, county treasurer and the land bank’s board chairperson. “We just want to leverage with the cities, and the townships in some instances, to get the best bang out of the buck.”
Those tax foreclosures often mean blighted homes are put into the hands of the land bank, which works off limited resources for rehabilitation, demolition and maintenance. Demolitions can cost up to $20,000 in some cases, and rehabilitating homes is costly, too — the city of Battle Creek will invest about $365,000 in grant funding to redevelop just two homes.
So, officials must get creative. The land bank just wrapped up the first year of a maintenance program, which offered stipends to organizations that would mow lawns and maintain properties. Two hundred lots were mowed by five participating groups.
The land bank also works closely with cities and townships to contribute matching funds for grants and help prioritize which properties may be addressed first.
“It certainly is risk-tasking,” Schauer said. “I just think we have a great team going, we have a great board at the land bank, and we just hope we can continue to get money to do these activities.”
This year helped. The land bank received several grants, including $353,650 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to tear down homes in Albion and Emmett Township. Trout-Edwards said two rounds of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding this year totaling about $600,000 will also help pay for demolitions, including the work Thursday.
Travis Markos, owner and operator of Markos Excavating, said the demolition Thursday was a rather easy project, taking only about 45 minutes.
“The difficulty comes when you’ve got houses that are close together or around a dangerous area,” he said. “But this one being out in the open, you’ve got plenty of room.”
Contact Jennifer Bowman at 269-966-0589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.