homepage logo

Another one bites the dust

By Staff | Mar 4, 2018

This house on the northwest corner of Rice and Eighth streets was demolished one day last week.

The city of Blue Earth and its Housing Rehabilitation Authority (HRA) board is continuing with their demolition plan.

In fact, two more houses were demolished just in the past two weeks.

At their last meeting, held on Tuesday, Feb. 20, the City Council received an update on four houses.

One, at the corner of Nicollet and Ninth streets, was taken down just the previous week, and city administrator Tim Ibisch had included photos of the house in the council’s information packet.

“The county had taken over ownership of that house previously,” Ibisch said. “It had been occupied by a squatter for some time. But it was in bad shape and was deemed hazardous.”

This house is located at the corner of Nicollet and 10th streets in Blue Earth. The family of the former resident has offered to gift the house to the city, once it all clears through probate. The city is now studying whether the structure can be fixed up, or whether it needs to be demolished, once the city owns it.

The city ended up purchasing the house for $100 from the county.

Ibisch said they were a little surprised by the amount of junk and garbage that was in the house. And that increased the cost of demolition.

“We normally have to spend $3,500 to $4,000 for a smaller house like this,” Ibisch explains. “But the garbage had to be classified as toxic since we didn’t know what it all was. That increased the cost, probably to $7,500.”

Another house, this one at the corner of Rice and Eighth streets, was taken down just this past week.

Ibisch says the HRA had taken over ownership of that structure some time ago, at a cost of about $4,500, plus about $5,000 to pay off back taxes. Again, it had been assessed as structurally not sound. The cost of demolition will be around $4,000 to $4,500, Ibisch estimated, because it was a bit larger than the others. “The HRA has monies available in their Housing Rehabilitation and Demolition Fund for this type of project,” Ibisch said. “We feel it is a good use of the funds and helps improve the overall look of the city.”

Two more houses could be next on the demolition schedule. One is on East Seventh Street and the HRA recently took over ownership of that house. The house was up for auction and the HRA placed the high bid. No plans are yet in place for demolition until all the paper work to transfer ownership can be done after the estate is settled.

The second house is located at 128 West 10th Street, at the corner of 10th and Nicollet.

At the last City Council meeting, Ibisch said the city has been approached by the family of the person who had lived there and is now deceased, about having the city take over ownership.

“There was a question whether the house should be demolished or whether it could be rehabbed,” Ibisch said. “So we did an inspection of the property.”

City building inspector Steve Anderson and local contractor Steve Pilcher were both part of the inspection and their reports were part of the council packet.

Both reported multiple issues with the house, but stated it could possibly be fixed up. Some of the issues involve the roof, windows, front porch and the foundation, but others were basically cosmetic.

Ibisch said the city could take over ownership and then offer it to local contractors or someone else who would be interested in doing all the necessary repairs and improvements. It is basically in OK condition, he said, and is larger than most of the others the city has demolished, as it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, etc.

“This is for information only at this meeting,” Ibisch told the council. “No decision needs to be made tonight.”

The HRA also did four house demolitions last year.

One was on the same Nicollet and 10th streets intersection as the one a family wants to donate to the city.

Another was on First Street which was in very terrible shape and had been abandoned for some time. Another was on East Fourth Street and was demolished both because it was in poor condition and deemed hazardous, but also because it made room for two new ELM Homes facilities to be built.

The HRA is also looking at a couple of other houses that could be purchased and demolished in the future.

“Most of these houses are very small, one or two bedrooms only, and have been neglected for many years, with little maintenance done,” Ibisch says. “They have roof damage, water damage and other issues that mean they cannot be rehabbed.”

Ibisch says the HRA chairman, Lars Bierly, and vice chairman, Dan Mensing, as well as the rest of the board, is committed to continue with the demolition program as a way to help clean up the city.

“They feel it is a good use of the resources they (the HRA) has,” Ibisch says. “So I am sure this will continue for some time into the future.”