Danville officials recently approved spending more than $200,000 to remove vacant, dilapidated structures. That’s a hefty piece of change, but spending the money now should yield dividends in the future.
City officials have fought a battle against dilapidated structures for years. Houses and commercial buildings become empty, abandoned by their owners for various reasons. These empty buildings begin to deteriorate, become havens for illegal activity and open the door to the slow creep of blight through a neighborhood.
The number of empty structures within the city can hurt the value of adjacent property, decreasing the amount of tax revenue collected by the city. That’s one of the primary reasons to demolish the structures. Such structures, especially after standing empty and neglected for some time, also create health hazards in the neighborhoods.
Some of these buildings were donated to the city, the owners walking away after they become too much of a financial burden to bear. Unfortunately, those donations also come after the structures have become too dilapidated to repair and reuse. The least expensive alternative to is demolish them.
Other buildings create a larger problem for city officials. Tracking down the true owners of some of the abandoned buildings can be a difficult task. Little, if anything, can be done to the buildings until a clear title can be determined.
Tearing down these structures at least improves the appearance of their neighborhoods and at best provide space for new construction. One set of buildings on the south side of Main Street east of the railroad tracks will cost almost $140,000 to tear down, but the empty lots left behind present a potential place for development. And taxes from new buildings will help the city and potentially lower property taxes for others.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said he plans to propose a large demolition program sometime this fall. It’s an issue that deserves the full attention of the city’s aldermen. Knocking down these abandoned, dangerous structures will not only make their neighborhoods look better and also will help the whole community.