Kittanning razes condemned homes it bought at tax sale
Kittanning started removing blight from neighborhoods one condemned house at a time this week.
Houses at 1350 1⁄2 Sirwell St. and 1600 Johnston St. have been torn down, and demolition has started at 561 Johnston Avenue. The borough purchased the properties at the Armstrong County tax sale in February with a goal of selling them to people who would rebuild once demolition is finished.
“One by one, we're going to make progress,” Councilwoman Kim Fox said. “It's really good for the area.”
This is the first time the borough has taken such an active role in cleaning up blighted neighborhoods, she said.
Sean Westlake and his crew from Ekaltsew Inc. in Kittanning have finished two of the demolitions and started Thursday on the third. He expects to finish tearing down the third house within two weeks.
“They were collapsed in on themselves. Now, they just need backfilled,” he said of the first two homes to go down.
Despite some surprises — including a rogue raccoon that leaped from the attic of 1600 Johnston during demolition — the project is going well, Westlake said.
“We're three houses in the right direction. It's already been a great improvement,” he said.
The borough bought seven properties at the tax sale for $1 plus $55 in deed recording fees for each. The properties included three vacant lots and four with condemned homes — one which may be salvageable.
All told, tearing down the houses cost about $10,000, Council President Randy Cloak said. Whether someone rebuilds on the properties, or a neighbor buys one to expand their yard, it's a win for the borough as long as the properties are sold.
“We'd like to return them to the tax rolls,” Cloak said.
Fox expects each lot to sell for roughly $15,000. If this summer's trial run is successful, the borough will buy and try to flip more tax sale properties.
The borough has its eye on condemned homes on Woodward and Hawthorne Streets, Fox said.
The houses — which went into the county's possession after taxes went unpaid — have been a problem for “quite some time,” Fox said. Yards became overgrown while the homes continued to crumble.
“We need to clean up blight. It's a good thing for the area,” Fox said. “We need to draw people in. We have so much here.”
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, x 1315 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Armstrong County Health Center celebrates decades of care
- Armstrong Junior-Senior High School to receive National Day of Prayer blessing
- Life skills students enjoy prom festivities in Manor
- West Shamokin students get lesson about driving under the influence
- Kittanning councilman’s property removed from sheriff sale list
- Feds to Ford City: 60 days to repay $581,000 grant default
- High school vandalism captured on video in Ford City
- Burglary suspect arrested in Kittanning
- Spices make the difference for thriving Armstrong County chip company
- Armstrong candidates tackle issues during forum
- Rash of break-ins reported in Kittanning