City will demolish 17 condemned buildings

Continuing its efforts to remove eyesores from city streets and revitalize neighborhoods, the Lancaster City Council is moving to demolish 17 condemned buildings.
The money comes from a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), to which the city added a 10 percent match of $50,000.
The council last week awarded the demolition contract to Jones Grading & Fencing, the lowest bidder at $104,500.
City Administrator Flip Hutfles said the demolition project would improve the neighborhood where most of the properties are located, on the east side of town, by helping to reduce crime and raise property values.
“Eliminating deteriorating structures can be the first step toward creating an opportunity for an area to rebound from years of disinvestments while also improving the neighborhood’s safety, security and quality of life,” Hutfles said.
He also noted that the demolition project could reduce the risk of fires started in abandoned buildings as the colder weather sets in and people begin to use the houses to keep warm.
Thirty condemned properties were initially identified for the project, with 17 selected for demolition now.
The properties to be torn down are located at 120 Pleasant Hill St., 120 Hazel St., 124 Hazel St., 703 E. Dunlap St., 515 E. Gay St., 105 N. Gregory St., 109 N. Gregory St., 111 N. Gregory St. 205 Thomas Lane, 207 Thomas Lane, 101 Blalock Alley, 426 Riley Circle, 427 Riley Circle, 304 N. Market St., 426 E. Meeting St., 105 S. Ferguson St., and 202 S. Ferguson St.
The total project cost of $550,000 includes $12,600 for asbestos testing, $48,500 for grant administration and $488,900 for demolition work.
Due to the lower demolition costs, the city hopes to be able to conduct a second round of demolition for 10 more condemned residential structures in the city limits.
The last time the city conducted a similar demolition project was three years ago, said the city’s Building and Zoning Director Louis Streater.
That project was conducted through the Neighborhood Initiative Program, he said, and resulted in the demolition of about 30 homes.
After the data regarding the project goes to the Department of Commerce for approval, demolition should begin in the next couple of months.

By Emily Pollok, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News