Blighted, dangerous structures to come down with $1.1 million grant

Sometimes before good things can happen the old has to make way for the new. 
 
With a $1.1 million grant from the state of Michigan for blight elimination change will be coming to locations in the City of Kalamazoo and in Cooper, Comstock, and Kalamazoo townships, and the Village of Schoolcraft.
 
Joint application for the funds was made by the Kalamazoo County Land Bank Authority and the City of Kalamazoo. The funds come from a $15 million pool made available as a result of the state attorney general’s settlement with mortgage companies over inappropriate mortgage practices.  
 
"We were happy to be able to use local funds to leverage state funds," says Kelly Clark, executive director of the Land Bank. The commitment of $100,000 each from the city and the county helped the land bank build a case for receiving the funds. 
 
As a result 83 blighted residential properties will be demolished in the City of Kalamazoo. City properties to be demolished are vacant, tax-foreclosed buildings, or are structures which have been ordered demolished by the City of Kalamazoo’s Dangerous Buildings Board.
 
It is anticipated that many of the lots where demolitions will take place will be leased through the adopt-a-lot program, will become a community garden or will be transferred in a side lot sale. 
 
Another option is for cleared lots to be used for new homes. For example, a partnership is under way between Habitat for Humanity and the Land Bank on a lot on the Eastside. It's a relationship that has been built over time through previous projects. Habitat and the Land Bank have worked together in the past on property transfer, reinvestment, and sale to a Habitat partner family, who helps build his or her own home. 
 
In another location, a home may be burned as part of a training exercise for fire fighters, before it is demolished. 
 
LIFT Foundation, the owner of New Horizon Village apartment complex, also will receive $136,000 from the grant and will use the funds to demolish 14 buildings at New Horizon Village.
 
"Generally speaking, it's known that blight and houses in disrepair are issues of health and safety and there is a significant impact on property values," says Clark. 
 
A vacant lot, on the other hand, can become a side lot for an adjacent property, thereby raising the value of that land, as one example of the benefits of taking down blighted properties.
 
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: City of Kalamazoo and Kelly Clark, Kalamazoo County Land Bank Authority

Captions:

1. When abandoned or blighted property is demolished it can make way for projects such as the shed where neighbors can borrow tools to work on a community garden.

2. and 3. Blighted buildings can create unstable conditions for a neighborhood.

4 Community gardens are one of the ways property can be used once blighted buildings are removed.

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