January 14, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Solid Rock Construction Company of West Portsmouth has been awarded the contract for the teardown of some 25 vacant houses in the city of Portsmouth as a part of the Gateway Project. The Gateway Project consists of the city streets that are a part of the U.S. 23 and the U.S. 52 corridor through the city.
“This is 25 houses coming down on Scioto Trail and (U.S.) 52, going both ways,” Portsmouth Health Commissioner Chris Smith said. “So as people drive on Walnut Street, on Gallia Street, and they look up on the hill and see all of those abandoned houses, they are coming down.”
Solid Rock Construction Company was awarded the contract on a bid of $123,700.
“We had $150,000 to spend, and we have a couple of property owners who are going to do their own, so that will allow us to do a little more,” Crystal Weghorst, Director of Engineering for the city of Portsmouth, said.
Weghorst said there have been people who have questions about the impact tearing down the houses would have on the city’s tax base. But Weghorst said most of the houses have been setting empty and taxes have not been paid.
“These houses have been setting with delinquent taxes on them,” Weghorst said. “They are open to the public. People are squatting in them. There’s drug activity that is going on in several.”
Smith said most are from the Land Reutilization Program.
“The county is foreclosing on them now,” Smith said. “They’re going to start going to the Sheriff’s Sale in February and March. And then we can offer them to sell to the public at fair market value. So they’ll strip all the taxes and liens. Nobody is going to pay $20,000 or $40,000 for an empty lot. We can strip it and sell the lot for $3,000.”
“They (Solid Rock) have put in for their extermination permits through the Health Department which means they are coming down,” Smith said.
Officials at Solid Rock Construction Company expect to begin the tear down process around Jan. 21.
Weghorst said the list currently being utilized for the project is subject to change as some owners take over the tear down, allowing the city to tear down an additional house in place of it.
Scheduled for teardown in 2013:
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org