City to demolish 900 vacant or abandoned properties
There are around 1,000 vacant homes on the Hilltop, but the worst of these abandoned properties could soon be demolished.
On Feb. 23, Mayor Michael Coleman announced a new initiative to tear down 900 blighted structures within the next four years – averaging 200 abandoned properties per year.
This project will cost the city $11.5 million. It is financed through the capital improvement fund, which is a part of the general fund that targets specific improvements.
“Despite the efforts we have made in the past, the scourge of vacant and abandoned housing continues to rain blight upon our neighborhoods,” Coleman said in a news release.
According to Cynthia Rickman, Columbus Department of Development, the city does not know what percentage of the demolition will happen on the Hilltop.
Rickman said if the demolished structures are part of a land bank, the lots are held or sold. However, if the building belongs to a private individual, the city will work to acquire the property.
There are more than 6,200 vacant properties citywide, but the focus is on the 900 structures in immediate need of demolition for safety and health concerns.
To deal with the remaining residences, the city has created the Vacant and Abandoned Property (VAP) unit. VAP will not only enforce zoning codes on vacated structures, but will reportedly publish the names of neglectful property owners.
Columbus Councilman Zach Klein said cleaning up blighted homes takes cooperation between city and community. Klein said VAP helps focus city resources to where they are needed most.
The Hilltop community has dealt with abandoned properties for years, along with the secondary problem of these homes becoming targets of scavengers and metal theft.
“One home becomes gutted for pipes and siding and all of a sudden, it is an unlivable home and brings down the home values and frankly, the morale of a community,” said Justin Boggs, vice-chair of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
Boggs said he hopes the city can rid the neighborhood of blight, but also acknowledged it takes more to revitalize an area.
“More capital and business investment is needed in our community. If this initiative is paired with large amounts of investment, it has the possibility of having success,” Boggs said.