West side home demolished as part of mayor’s initiative

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It's admittedly an ambitious goal, but that hasn't stopped Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett from trying to remove eyesores from city neighborhoods.

Last month during the State of the City address, Hogsett said his administration would demolish or renovate 2,000 blighted properties.

Tuesday, the mayor and other city leaders were in the River's Edge neighborhood to see one of those homes demolished.

"It is a promise that is admittedly ambitious in scope, but one that we remain dedicated to fulfilling because it is the morally just and right thing to do," the mayor said to the crowd before demolition began.

The abandoned River's Edge home has sat vacant for about two years. It sustained significant damage in 2015 during a fire and has been empty ever since. It was originally a model home for the neighborhood.

"I remember getting the call at work that the model home was on fire," said Gene Hawkins, who lives in the area and is the neighborhood association president.

Hawkins was one of about a dozen residents in the neighborhood looking on at the eyesore was torn down.

Hogsett said homeowners pay their taxes and deserve a clean neighborhood.

"This is ridding this community of a hotbed for crime," he said. "It's striking away an eyesore that reduces the neighborhood property values and it is clearing the way for a new house to be raised in its absence."

The demolition was paid for through Indiana's Hardest Hit Funds.

Last year, Renew Indianapolis was handed the task of limiting blighted homes. In 2016, the organization addressed 83 homes in the city.

"We have 85 houses in the pipeline to demolish and an additional 55 for a total of 140 in 2017," said Renew Indianapolis executive director Bruce Baird.

According to Renew Indianapolis' website, the city has nearly a thousand properties the organization is trying to address.

A spokesperson with the city has 1,953 properties it defines as an abandoned house, which the city defines as a property with two consecutive missed property tax cycles and no postal service or utility service. There are also 1,632 homes that are eligible for county surplus.

The city will use several tactics to address blighted properties, including demolitions, rehab and repairs, new construction and land transactions.

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