As part of the city’s effort to address run-down houses in a timely manner, Wilmington City Council members on Wednesday voted unanimously to demolish a dilapidated house and foreclose on the property.
The home, which has been inspected through the minimum housing code enforcement process, has been deemed “unfit for human habitation.” Supporting documents state that, “The consequence of not approving this demolition would be to continue to have a dilapidated dwelling that poses a public safety and health hazard.”
The property, located at 1014 N. 7th St. between Swann Street and Harnett Street, is a 1,025 sq. ft. one-story single-family house. According to the minimum housing code file summary on the home, the property owners owe over $9,000 in taxes (with interest included) and public nuisance liens. Williane Carr, the city’s chief code enforcement officer, said taxes have not been paid on the property since 2007. Several attempts have been made by Carr and her staff to contact the owners over the last several years, but they have never received a response. The city has been maintaining the yard and keeping the building boarded and secured.
The city has been targeting homes and properties that are run down and not up to code as part of its “Create a Safe Place” focus area in the city’s strategic plan. Councilmembers wanted to emphasize that demolition is the last resort for the city, which sees dilapidated houses and properties as a “blight” to the community and a hindrance to public safety as well as a burden to taxpayers.
“There is concern in the community of the city obtaining property, particularly from low-income or minorities,” Councilmember Laura Padgett said. “The city tries very hard not to do this. Our intent is to keep our neighborhoods livable places, not to acquire property.”
Councilmember Earl Sheridan agreed, saying that in this particular case, the city had to step in as the owners had never been heard from and the city was losing money from the upkeep and owed taxes and liens.
“This is a piece of property that has deteriorated and is affecting the neighborhood,” Sheridan said.
“The end goal is to get houses that are a blight to the neighborhood back to a productive state,” Councilmember Kevin O’Grady added. “It’s tough, none of us really want to do it.”
The house will be demolished in the next few months, and the property will go through the foreclosure process and likely be available for auction in the first half of next year. The city as well as members of the public will be eligible to bid on the property.