Blighted Houses, Burned Buildings Top City Council


Evansville City Council takes two steps forward, in two different ways, to clean up the streets.

The theme of Monday’s meeting seemed to be something like – out with the old and in with potential.

Some big, and some small; some blighted, and some burned.

Council voted to approve new a corporation to tear down blight across the city, and also to approve a massive demolition downtown.

It starts on Main Street, just a few blocks from the Civic Center. A massive fire in June destroyed two historic buildings at 217 and 219 Main Street and what’s left cannot be saved.

The only problem facing the city, the building commission has already spent most of its $500,000 demolition budget this year.

The price tag to tear it all down is an estimated $300,000.

Necessary cash was moved Monday from the Riverboat fund. City leaders say one of the uses of the fund is for emergencies or disasters.

Finance chair, Dan McGinn, (R – Ward 1) says demolition it’s the only option for the two buildings.

“We’re putting 100 million dollars in the downtown area, we can’t have two burned-out buildings that could fall in a heavy windstorm, we have to take them down,” McGinn says.

City officials say 217 Main St. is insured and it’s expected the city will recover some of the cost.

The owner at 219 Main St. does not have insurance, and the rest of the demo money owed will be placed as a lien on the property.

From commercial to private, wrecking balls and bulldozers will target more blighted houses in Evansville now with a new and improved land bank corporation.

“It really helps us a lot in justifying in real time what we can do,” says Councilman Dr. H. Dan Adams (D – At-Large).

Currently the Brownfields Corporation operates in what city leaders say is a small scale. But the new local group, with a nine-member board and regular meetings, will expand land banking on a larger scale.

It will destroy vacant and blighted houses, and give new development a chance.

“If you have your house right next to [a blighted property], you lose anywhere from 20 to 30 thousand dollars on your ability to resell,” Adams adds.

The city has 300 houses in the land bank. Department of Metropolitan Development Director, Kelley Coures says the end of August, it will have 500 properties.

Coures is asking for $2 million for the first year of the new land bank group to complete demolitions. He hopes as many as a dozen houses will be torn down by September.

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