The city is about to secure $300,000 to improve its landscape and provide for the safety of its citizens.

A $300,000 loan from the state Housing Development Fund will be used to create a demolition fund pool from which property owners may borrow to tear down abandoned, dilapidated structures.

And it truly will be a loan program, in which the city will require those interested in the program to apply for funds and make payments that include interest if approved.

“We’re not getting it for free, so we don’t have the ability to give it to people for free,” City Planner Jay Rogers said. “We’re able to make it the lowest interest rate that we can.”

Rogers said the interest rate would be determined when the city signed closing papers in the coming days.

A couple of years ago, the city had participated in a similar loan program — but it was for half of the amount. Twelve dilapidated properties were taken down across the city, and property owners continue to be faithful in their payments toward the program.

In addition to that, 38 properties that were considered eyesores in the community were taken down about 10 years ago, Rogers said. While the list of abandoned houses and buildings that need to come down has grown in the past few years, it’s not nearly as expansive as it has been in the city’s past.

“One of the problems that we have now is not only the abatement of asbestos and lead, but we have some houses on steep terrain, sandwiched up against other houses, which just makes demolition difficult,” he said.

For example, an average wood-frame house with level terrain and no issues of hazardous material abatement could cost $5,000 to $7,000 to demo. But if you have a failing property on a very steep grade that is surrounded by other houses, and add asbestos and lead fixtures, the costs escalates to $15,000 to $20,000 on average.

That dramatically reduces the number of dilapidated houses that can come down through the program.

“If you look at our demolition list, we have a huge amount of those larger, asbestos-laden houses that are in tough locations that need to come down.”

If you would like more information about the city’s demolition loan fund, call the planning department at 366-6211.

E-mail Misty Poe at

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