Blighted homes in Kalamazoo to be demolished

Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-17 17:23:32-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- With hundreds of blighted homes lining the streets of Kalamazoo, city officials have accepted a grant that will go toward tearing some of them down. Like most cities, Kalamazoo has seen its share of blight, places where families once grew and created memories together that are now only eyesores.

Augusta Scott has lived most of her life on the city's northeast side. She is saddened to see what has become of so many homes over the years. Two of them just across the street are boarded up .

"I come out sometimes, and I look, and I say it (sic) making the neighborhood looks (sic) bad," Scott said. "Plus, it's bringing the value down in the neighborhood. If they're not going to fix them up, they need to just tear them down."

Which is what Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema says will be happening to 13 homes that are listed as a safety concern.

"We've got properties like this all over the city that fall into this category, especially in down times when people are unable to maintain their property," Ritsema said.

The city has an abandoned structures program that monitors blighted properties. According to the Community Planning & Developing Dept., there are currently 102 residential properties on the list.

But tearing down a home isn't as easy as swinging a wrecking ball through it. It takes big money. The average cost of demolishing a single family home is about $13,500, according to CPDD.

Tearing down the homes often takes a back seat to more urgent city needs, like public safety, Ritsema said.

That's where the grant comes in. The neighborhood stabilization grant, totaling $181,500, comes from Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Linda Taylor, who has also spent most of her life in Kalamazoo, said she loves and is proud of her neighborhood on the city's northeast side. However, she's often discouraged by the misconception people get when driving through the area.

"They don't want to stay in a neighborhood [when] this house [is] boarded up, then there's a nice house right here," Taylor said.

Both Taylor and Scott live within view of two of the homes scheduled to be brought down.

"People are sitting around, paper, garbage, all in the front of it," Scott said. "It makes it look bad for the ones that live here."

Ritsema said the homes should all come down this construction season.

The grant will be used to demolish these homes:

  • 711 Elizabeth
  • 1610 N. Charles
  • 1612 N. Charles
  • 430 Drexel
  • 1610 N. Church
  • 1109 S. Park
  • 607 Bryant
  • 723 N. Church
  • 725 N. Church
  • 312 W. Patterson
  • 1208 Staples
  • 1006 E. Vine St.
  • 813 E. Walnut

While this is just a portion of the homes that need to be demolished, Ritsema said the grant is a step in the right direction when it comes to cleaning up the city.

"To get a grant like this is a good thing and start taking care of some of these problem properties," Ritsema said. "We'll just keep working at it."