Blight beat: Ypsilanti Township seeks bids for demolition of 6 rotting homes
Ypsilanti Township is seeking bids for demolition of six blighted properties on which staff first took legal action around a year ago.
The demolitions are estimated to cost from $30,000 to $50,000 total. The township is still in court with some of the property owners to determine who will pay for the demolitions. Liens will be placed on each the properties when funds aren't available from property owners.
The addresses include:
- 1650 E. Forest Ave.
- 554 E. Grand Blvd.
- 597 E. Grand Blvd.
- 1248 E. Clark Road
- 2371 Wiard Court
- 2375 Wiard Court
The Wiard Court homes were first brought to officials' attention in 2007 when renters there were operating a dog fighting ring. The operation was busted by LAWNET and 17 pit bulls were rescued from the house.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Building inspectors found numerous code violations at the homes including a serious electrical hazard. Electricity had been cut at one of the properties, so the owner of both homes was running extension cords out of one house, across the lawn and into the other home.
Officials also found children playing in raw sewage that was leaking out of a crawl space in one of the homes. The properties’ owner lives in Florida and hasn’t responded to township requests to bring the homes up to code.
He lost the properties to foreclosure and they are now owned by Deutsche Bank, which is contending that it is not liable for the demolition. That dispute will be resolved by the Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
The house at 1248 E. Clark Road is owned by Florida-based Home Dreams but was dubbed the ‘House of Nightmares’ by township officials. It was first brought to their attention through neighbors' complaints in 2009.
Among other issues are a hole in the roof where the owner fell through and another section of the roof is completely missing. Parts of the basement wall are bowing or collapsing and the floor is wet because of moisture collecting in it. Large sections of interior walls are missing, mold-infested and rotting.
Home Dreams has not responded to the township’s requests to bring the homes up to code.
"I guess they think of Florida as a foreign country because they don’t think they need to respond to us," Township Attorney Doug Winters said. "At some point in time we’re going to pursue with some collection activity, and as they are still part of the United States, we are going to have a judge enforce the laws to the full force and credit of the constitution, even if we have to go to Florida."
Officials were led to the home at 554 E. Grand Blvd. after neighbors called because water was pouring out the basement window. A pipe had burst and filled the basement, and the water damage has left the building’s foundation rotting and unstable.
The woman who owned the home passed away last year, and her daughter, who inherited the home, died soon after. The homes' heirs don't want to take the house, Winters said, and the township will pay for the demolition.
Officials were alerted to a large Victorian home at 597 Grand Boulevard by LAWNET officers who were making a drug and prostitution bust there. Building Inspector Ron Fulton said the house is full of code violations and the owners chopped it up into a duplex without permits.
Officials suspect it was operating as a boarding house or apartment building. Winters said the township has dubbed the home the "Adams Family" house because it resembles the home in the "Adams Family."
The bank has offered $8,100 toward demolition of the home, which is infested with mold, has a garage on the verge of collapse and “is a just a beautiful gift to the neighborhood” Fulton said.
The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees approved taking the home’s title from the bank, so it is now the township’s responsibility, though the $8,100 should mostly cover the demolition and asbestos remediation costs.
“We believe this is a reasonable way to proceed,” Fulton said.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.