3 more houses coming down in blight program

The city is scheduling three more Columbus homes for demolition after their owners agreed to participate in a blight-elimination program.

Structures at 506 Smith St., 48 S. Hinman St. and 300 S. Beatty St. in Columbus are the latest to be scheduled for demolition in the coming months, said Robin S. Hilber, Columbus Community Development programs coordinator.

The city has awarded contracts for demolition of three other structures next week, the first three approved for the blight-elimination program since Mayor Jim Lienhoop took office.

Those homes being demolished are at 2020 Sixth St., 1468 Union St. and 1462 California St., Hilber said.

Funding for the demolitions is being provided by a $760,000 grant the city received in August 2014 through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to be used to acquire and demolish blighted homes and prepare the lots for future construction.

The deadline for spending 50 percent of the funds was Feb. 28, 2016, but no work had been done with the program when the Lienhoop administration took office and the city had to return half the grand to the development authority. However, the city petitioned to extend the final deadline and did receive an extension for the program.

The program now has $350,000 to $380,000 to work on blighted housing.

The program is different in that the city uses grant funding to pay the homeowner a nominal amount for the value of the home while allowing the city to retain ownership of the land, Hilber said in an earlier interview.

Taxpayer money is not used in the transaction, she said.

The city then partners with community housing development agencies who will provide affordable housing, or gives the land to a neighboring property owner to develop, Hilber said.

For example, the demolished property at 2020 Sixth St. is going to Thrive Alliance, which has programs to help families afford rental housing in Columbus.

The 1462 California St. lot will go to Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, which will work with the Columbus C4 construction program which teaches high school students how to build a home.

Hilber told Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop that all six owners of the homes in the program had fully agreed to be part of the program and have the structures demolished.

The Columbus Board of Works took the bids for the latest three structures under advisement and will award the bid for the demolition later this month.

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Four companies provided bids for contracts to demolish three homes in the local blight-elimination program, 500 Smith St., 48 S. Hinman St. and 300 S. Beatty St.

Bids to demolish all three structures were taken under advisement by the Columbus Board of Works and included:

  • Darren Gunter Excavating, $43,800
  • Robertson Paving, $40,000
  • Schneider Trucking and Excavating, $36,300
  • ES Contracting, $31,840