Greenwood offering free home if taker pays to move it

GREENWOOD, Ind. – An empty house is up for grabs if a new owner is willing to cover moving expenses. The City of Greenwood bought property along Pleasant Creek this summer to help reduce potential emergency services during a flood.

According to Chris Jones, Greenwood's director of storm water management, the city has helped homeowners in the flood path move in recent years. Voluntary programs through the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allow homeowners to sell their property before a natural disaster causes a hazard.

The program reduces future losses before disaster strikes. One requirement is structures on the property are taken down.

"Let the waters flow where they are going to flow and keep the waters as clean as possible," explained Jones.

Jones said Greenwood has used the program nine times to create green space along Pleasant Creek.

This time though, instead of going through the federal program, Greenwood decided to buy a homeowner's property, allowing the city to do as it sees fit.

"Water continues to change," Jones said. "Every time it rains, this house and some of the others always got wet."

Money was used through the storm water board and redevelop commission.

Restore Old Town Greenwood, which works to preserve and promote a historic area in Old Town Greenwood, asked the city and Jones' office to try this method.

"It’s definitely unique, especially for the storm water department," Jones said.

Jones now has the keys to the house and has had several showings, with callers coming from other areas of central Indiana, such as Knightstown and Plainfield.

"The problem isn’t with the house, but where the house is," Jones said.

Moving structures has been an option for homeowners for years, but recent technology has made it easier, according to a company that moves buildings, homes and other structures.

"You might have 10 or 20 jacks under [a home]," said Devin Hirt, an estimator at Wolfe House & Building Movers, which has an office in North Manchester, Indiana. "They all rise at the same time and they didn’t used to do that."

Hirt's office recently took a job in Indianapolis. It moved a home out of Fountain Square to allow for the development of an apartment complex.

He said most jobs are done because the homeowner doesn't want to lose the memories or sentimental value of their house.

However, many projects don't happen because it can get rather expense to get a home to a new spot when the route requires utility poles to be lifted to get the home, and truck carrying it, to a new location.

The city plans to demolish the home if a new owner doesn't come up with a plan to move it by the end of September.