City to demolish Pearl Street house

The city of Columbus is proposing to demolish a fire-damaged residence and replace it with affordable housing.

The Columbus Board of Works approved a request March 30 from city code enforcement to accept a quitclaim deed for property at 1320 Pearl St.

The two-story residence there was damaged in a fire in February. Both apartment units’ tenants were out at the time, and no injuries were reported. However, damages were extensive for both the ground floor and second floor apartments, rendering the home uninhabitable.

Code Enforcement Officer Fred Barnett said that the owner was unsure about what he wanted to do with the property, so Barnett suggested signing a quitclaim deed to the city.

The quitclaim deed makes the city of Columbus responsible for tearing down the now-unsafe residence, he said. It would also allow the city to build new, affordable housing in the area, similar to what was done at 1510 Pearl St.

Barnett and city Department of Public Works director Bryan Burton are communicating with Bartholomew County’s solid waste management board about trying to get a discount on dump fees for the demolition. He added that the residence needs to come down soon.

“This house is too dangerous and too wide open to let it go until the end of April, and maybe until the first of May, to get it torn down,” he said. “So with Bryan’s help, we went in and filled out the application to the waste management board to kind of get a pre-approval. They may or may not approve it.”

The solid waste board typically gives half of the cost off in such situations, which would reduce the price from $30 per ton to $15 per ton.

Executive Director of Administration and Community Development Mary Ferdon also noted that the city has accepted quitclaim deeds from other properties in the past. The city has an unsafe building fund that is used for “any cost around accepting properties and demolishing properties,” she said.

The city hopes that this property will hold the fourth home built as part of a housing collaboration with C4 students at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., said Assistant Director of Community Development Robin Hilber. The C4 program’s first house was built at 15th and Pearl streets, a second was built at Eighth and California streets, and a third house is in the beginning stages for 15th and California streets. Hilber added that new house would be for home ownership, not a rental property.