Mayor's initiative to demolish abandoned homes begins on city's west side

Mayor Joe Hogsett delivers the State of the City address at IUPUI.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - During his state of the city last month, Mayor Joe Hogsett promised to tear down or rehab two-thousand vacant houses in two years.

He kicked off that initiative Tuesday morning on the city's west side in the Rivers Edge neighborhood.

Standing in front of a vacant, burned out two-story house he said, "today's efforts are about more than a structure being demolished. It's ridding this community of a hotbed for crime. It's striking away an eyesore that otherwise reduces neighborhood property values and it is clearing the way for new house to be raised in its absence."

The house, built roughly 20 years ago, was the development's model home. But a few years ago, it fell into disclosure and then caught fire after squatters had moved in.

Tyrone Chandler, one of the community's first residents, remembers seeing flames shooting thru the roof.

"And three years later, it was still boarded up... so I'm glad it's being torn down," Chandler said. And, even though it was just one house in a community of 65, he added, "I think it's really had an adverse effect on the property values of our community."

Brad Dopson, another long-time resident agreed, "it's really put a damper on the neighborhood. This is an area that's really become new again. It's an up and coming area so it's kind of hindered our growth."

As the excavator tore into the side of the house, peeling back the roof, several dozen people applauded while chanting, "tear it down, tear it down!"

Sherri Brown, who's part of the homeowners association, said, "i'm so excited. This is a great day. It's a long time coming."

Brown said she and others had been to meetings, made calls and sent emails to no avail. Part of the problem? As with so many vacant properties involving foreclosure, there were questions about ownership.

It may have taken three years to get to this point, but it took just over an hour to level the house. Brown couldn't stop beaming.

"It's so exciting," she said. "And I'm very thankful, just so grateful for this."

The house was demolished using money from the Hardest Hit Funds. The lot will now be marketing and sold be Renew Indianapolis for construction of a new home.