Demolitions moving along of decades-old abandoned buildings

Demolition work was taking place Wednesday at 233 S. Griffin St. The city continues to deal with dangerous, abandoned structures.

DANVILLE – It’s been a long time coming for some abandoned buildings to be demolished around the city.

Some residents said they’ve been waiting for up to about 18 years to see some of the dilapidated buildings in their neighborhoods removed.

It was “Merry Christmas to the neighborhood,” according to one west downtown resident who saw a large building come down at 203 W. Madison St. The building was full of mold and the roof was falling in. It’d been abandoned more than a decade and was of no historical value, according to Mayor Rickey Williams Jr.

It'd become a danger with vagrants breaking in and causing problems for the neighbors, he also added. The building had been rented out and the city purchased it at a tax auction years ago.

That building was just one of about 30 demolitions that started in November and should be completed by the end of the month, said Tracy Craft, Danville Public Works program compliance coordinator.

Two demolitions at 233 S. Griffin St. and 104 W. Clay St. were being finished up Wednesday by contractors Owens Excavating and Big O Services, respectively. Three more demolitions each remain for Thomas Excavating and Daniel Ribbe Trucking.

The Danville City Council in October approved spending $280,000 in Community Development Block grant funds for the demolitions. Danville Public Works Director Carl Carpenter said the CDBG money had to be spent by March, with the demolitions expected to be completed by February.

Craft said they are ahead of the Feb. 15 schedule.

“We’ll be done before then,” Craft said, adding that it also leaves time for the CDBG paperwork to be completed.

The addresses are: 320 Harmon; 808 N. Walnut; 714 Wayne; 411 Sager; 928 E. Main; 311 Alexander; 827 Myers; 918 Norman; 612 Jewell; 415 Kimball; 608 Martin; 1008 May; 203 W. Madison; 233 Tennessee; 101 N. State; 104 W. Clay; 5 Wisconsin; 14 Illinois; 2612 E. Main; 449 Elm; 443 Oak; 406 and 407 Clements; 1515, 1517 and 1519 Lyons; 30 Lake; 233 S. Griffin; and 1518 Russell.

Carpenter said a noticeable difference can be seen by those living in and those driving by in these neighborhoods.

“It’s working well,” he said of the demolitions.

In addition to those, the city also took down 11 buildings — three near the East Main Street Burger King, the old laundromat building near O’Brien’s Corner Tavern also on East Main Street, four buildings near Danville High School and three on Collett.

Craft said of the majority of demolitions, the buildings became vacant and were abandoned for different reasons. He believes the primary reason was due to homeowner deaths and no family in this area.

Craft has been dealing with properties and has been in charge of boarding up the buildings for about 18 years. The colors of the boards, such as light blue and gray, used to cover the windows on the vacant buildings to be demolished are different each year.

The color might have been blue for 2014 and then pea green or light gray other years. He said he picks “subtle colors. It blends in,” he said about the vacant buildings in neighborhoods.

There still remain 282 structures on the city’s demolition list, according to Craft. He said that doesn’t include more on the watch list which could also go at any time.

He said another batch of about 11 buildings are ready to be demolished, with surveys and other preparation work completed. The city will use community redevelopment funds for those demolitions. Craft said there were about 60 demolitions completed in the city in 2018 and about the same, 60 to 65, in 2019.

The average demolition cost was $10,500 per house last year, according to Craft.

Demolitions also could start soon for the Carle medical campus project on the city’s west side. Williams reported at Tuesday night’s city council meeting that he heard from Carle officials that demolition bids have been opened and they were waiting for a few final details.

Installation of fencing around that area and the demolitions could start by the end of this month, Williams said.

In a social media post Wednesday, Williams addressed false rumors about the Carle project. He also said Carle paid the final two holds outs, Allen Dixon, for 201 N. Logan Ave. and 606 W. Madison St., which were a vacant lot and commercial storage garage, and Tamera Lopez, for 118 N. Logan Ave., $95,000 each for their properties.

Lopez had been offered $55,000 for her home.

Another building to be demolished this year is the former Harwal Hotel on West Harrison Street, and city officials also continue to look into demolishing Bresee Tower.

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