Several Waterloo abandoned, neglected homes coming down - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Several Waterloo abandoned, neglected homes coming down

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Several neglected and abandoned homes in Waterloo will soon meet the wrecking ball.  With the help of some federal grant money, the city is tearing down blighted houses to help clean up neighborhoods.

One example:  a home in the 400 block of Wellington.  It's an eyesore to its west side neighborhood for more than just its looks.  Last month, police surrounded the area after someone called them saying there was a man hold up inside with a gun.  Now, it's one of about a dozen properties the city will be tearing down as part of an ongoing effort to polish up its image.

There's a home along Ash Street in Waterloo that caught fire a few years ago.  There are a few more homes along Almond Street that have been empty for years.  And those vacant properties are not a pretty site.  That's why the city is tearing them down.

"A lot of times there's a safety problem there, especially with kids.  It's an attractive nuisance.  We don't want them playing around broken glass, rotted timbers, and those types of things.  A lot of vermin get in there too.  So we get them torn down, smoothed out, and then we can sell them," said Dave Zellhoefer, Waterloo Assistant City Attorney.

Already this spring, a couple of properties have been demolished, including one along South Street.  For those that live near the blighted homes, it's a welcome sight.

"Come to Church Row now because now is when you can buy things very affordably.  And if you can put some time and effort into it, you're going to have a lovely place and you're going to have a nice place to live.  And we really believe this neighborhood will really come back, and come back strong," said Mary Potter with the Church Row Neighborhood Association.

That's the city's hope, too.  The goal of this four year old program is to restore the image of entire neighborhoods by removing the eyesores to create opportunities for new development that goes back onto the city's tax rolls.

"We contact the neighbors next door and see if they're interested in buying it and then they can either turn it into a garden or planted as a grass yard and make it beautiful again.  Some people will tear down houses and build a new one.  And on a few occasions, we've had houses moved in on them from other locations," said Zellhoefer.

And the city is already looking at potential properties for tear down next year, so it can continue bringing down blighted homes while polishing up the city's image.

In most of the neighborhoods where the city's targeted blighted houses, the tear downs are welcomed by the community.  Sometimes, there are questions raised by neighbors about why the homes can't be restored.  But the city says in these cases, the homes are just too far gone and can't be brought up to livable condition.

The city of Waterloo budgets about $150,000 each year to tear down neglected properties.

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