Demolition of Avenue C hovel a three-year struggle

Thursday, July 22, 2021
Before and after photos of the home at 1008 Avenue C on Greencastle's East Side show some of the damage to the home and demolition of the structure as of Thursday.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

A dilapidated home on Greencastle’s East Side -- an eyesore and safety issue for more than three years -- finally met its demise Thursday.

Well, sort of ...

The house at 1008 Avenue C, located on the south side of the street, three homes east of Percy Julian Drive, was essentially knocked down Thursday. That came after a demolition permit was issued following an Unsafe Building Hearing, City Planner Scott Zimmerman said, noting the quest to have the house removed began after it burned in March 2018.

“We were so-o-o close to celebrating getting a derelict property removed,” Zimmerman said.

By 1:30 p.m. Thursday the Commercial Place home was a pile of rubble. But before the debris could be hauled away, a legal journey of more than three years ground to a halt again as the city was forced to issue a stop-work order when the contractor from Kentucky failed to follow the guidelines of the demolition permit. The demolition crew reportedly failed to provide means to suppress possible lead dust, potential asbestos and other harmful chemicals carried in the dust created by the demolition.

“I truly appreciate (City Building Inspector) Pat Thibodeau,” Zimmerman said, praising him for dogged adherence to those building standards.

The contractor, Zimmerman said Thursday afternoon, is making arrangements for a water truck or hydrant meter to be brought to the site to hose the property down and keep dust at bay.

“Clearly the neighbors are thrilled,” he said, “that we’re able to remove some blight. And it goes with how we’re promoting new development in that neighborhood.”

After the house burned in 2018, it was uninhabitable. There were holes in the foundation. Groundhogs and feral cats found their way into the structure. And police reports of numerous break-ins and nefarious activity piled up.

Worse yet, vagrants pitched tents in the back yard and were living on the property before the city ran them off, the city planner said.

After the fire, the owner walked away from the property, Zimmerman said, letting it go back to the bank. The mortgage was taken over by different banks -- one of which was known to be Deutsche Bank -- who hired different property managers for the site.

The city continued to send notices of violation, especially in summer months when the grass and weeds were at their highest.

“We continued to assess fines,” Zimmerman said before the appeal was made to schedule an Unsafe Building Hearing.

That was originally set for June and continued until July 9 as Zimmerman worked with Cincinnati lawyers representing the never-disclosed owner of the site.

“Only yesterday (Wednesday) did we get the demolition permit,” the city planner added.

“They just pushed it down to the wire but they didn’t follow building standards.”

The bank’s legal counsel “managed to convince the bank to just tear it down rather than face a court order,” Zimmerman said, giving kudos to City Attorney Laurie Hardwick for her help in the matter.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: