City seeking to purchase blighted properties

Published 9:27 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

A handful of some of the city’s most unkempt residences may be seeing some well needed work in the near future.

The Dowagiac City Council approved an application to purchase four pieces of tax reverted property for nearly $13,500 earlier this week. These lands include the vacant
residences on:

• 110 Ashland St. (for $2,971.48)

• 504 Keene Ave. (for $2,415.70)

• 303 Parsonage St. (for $2,858.50)

• 403 West St. (for $5,213.31)

The purchase of these pieces of property is the latest step in the city’s renewed focus on the elimination of urban blight throughout its neighborhoods.

“Over the past year, as council has been working in workshops and trying to point toward the future, you’ve talked very heavily about blighted properties and trying to have some renewed emphasis on trying to deal with [them],” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson. “From that, we put some more money in the budget and have knocked down a few more houses.”

Last month, the council approved the purchase of the former Round Oak Stove Company storage facility near the railroad tracks on Division Street, also through tax-reversion. City officials are currently seeking grant money to demolish the long abandoned facility, in hopes of improving the downtown landscape.

A similar fate may be in store for two of the properties in this latest round of acquisitions. The city manager proposed destroying the residents on Ashland Street and Keene Avenue, due to the small size and condition of the homes, Anderson said.

“We can tear them down for, in total, $5,000 to $6,000, and clean up those neighborhoods, then move to adjoining properties to see who would want that property to add to their pieces of property,” he said. “I think those would make really good demolition pieces, should you want to take that blight to the next level.”

The other houses, at Parsonage and West streets, are located on adjacent lots. The city manger recommended that these homes be simply cleaned up, with the goal of having the buildings go back on the market for sale.

“Monies from that [cleanup] could then come back into the kitty,” Anderson said.

Councilmember Bob Schurr and Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin both expressed their support of the plan during the meeting, saying that taking care of the neglected properties should help improve the values of the homes surrounding them.

“We stand a very good chance of recouping our costs fairly soon on this,” Laylin said. “I’m totally in favor of what we are doing.“