Parkersburg housing demolitions reach 50

Moss: More on the horizon

Empire Builders owner Hank Oldaker goes over the debris from a demolished house Monday at 1100 Swann St., Parkersburg. That house brings the number of dilapidated houses razed in Parkersburg in the last two years to 50. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The 49th and 50th houses in Parkersburg’s offensive against dilapidated housing came down Monday.

Blighted structures at 1313 Division St. and 1100 Swann St. were razed by Empire Builders, part of a $58,100 bid to demolish nine houses around the city, according to Code Director Gary Moss and Finance Director Eric Jiles.

A house at 807 Swann St. is scheduled to be torn down Thursday, with demolition at 1006 17th St. to close out the bid, Moss said.

That will bring to 52 the number of houses demolished — by the city and property owners — out of the first 73 identified by city officials about two years ago.

“Some of the owners stepped up and fixed them or are in the process of fixing them,” Moss said.

Empire Builders owner Hank Oldaker digs in the debris of a house his company demolished Monday morning at 1100 Swann St. in Parkersburg. That brings the number of dilapidated houses razed in Parkersburg in the last two years to 50. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Six of the original 73, identified by code enforcement and ranked with a rubric developed by the city, are now repaired and occupied, and 11 are being repaired.

One has not yet been scheduled for demolition, and the other three are awaiting action by the Urban Renewal Authority, made up of all nine members of Parkersburg City Council.

Jesse Parsons, a neighbor of the house at 1100 Swann St., said she was happy to see it come down. It has been a problem since she moved to the neighborhood about two years ago, with people going in and out at all hours, she said.

“You have no idea what a relief it is,” Parsons said. “I don’t have to worry about my house burning down now.”

This round of demolitions was paid for out of $250,000 allocated from the city’s capital reserve fund, to be paid back over the next three years.

The house at 1100 Swann St. is shown before it was torn down Monday. (Photo Provided by Gary Moss)

The first $250,000 worth of demolitions and property acquisitions were paid for with a line of credit from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. The city was given three years to repay it, with no interest for the first two years.

Because it can take a while to get the paperwork for a demolition done, especially if the Urban Renewal Authority plans to acquire the property via eminent domain, city officials found the credit-line financing inefficient. Council voted this summer to allocate money from the capital reserve fund instead.

Since the city is using its own money, Moss said demolitions won’t have to go through the Urban Renewal Authority unless the city wishes to acquire the land. The Building Enforcement Agency — consisting of the mayor, fire chief, public works and development directors, city engineer and a representative of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department — can make that call.

“I’ve got 21 new houses (that) were presented to BEA this past month,” Moss said.

Title opinions on the properties have been ordered, and owners and lienholders will then be notified.

The next house on Parkersburg’s demolition list is 807 Swann St., shown here Monday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)