City-owned properties on Central Avenue are likely to be razed sometime this fall but discussion has already started about what will take their spot.
Union City Administrator Russell Rost said the final occupant in the properties has vacated, meaning the city can move forward with plans to tear down the structures at 1009 and 1019 N. Oak St. and the Central Avenue apartments, located at 208 Central Ave.
An environmental study was recently done on the buildings, Rost said. Once that study is finished, the next step is an asbestos abetment.
Rost said when all that is done, city crews will work to raze the structures. He said the demo work likely won’t happen until late summer or early fall.
“It shouldn’t take more than two or three days,” he said.
The city had hoped to move the project forward sooner. The original plan was to start the process at the end of the school year in mid-May. However, a resident in one of the units was still occupying the building and forced the city to undergo the eviction process.
The resident is no longer living in the building, Rost said.
“It’s been boarded up and they are officially gone,” he said. “The building is vacant.”
Rost said he’s already engaging in talks about the next steps for the properties. He said he’s met with Habitat for Humanity about the site.
“They’re kind of anxious about the site,” he said. “They have identified one person who would be interested in a home. They had issues with another home. It’s a disabled veteran.”
All of the properties were purchased from the lenders, Robert and Pamela Ashcraft, Des Peres, in early February for $57,999.28 — one-fourth of the assessed valuation listed by the county assessor.
The property at 1009 N. Oak had been heavily damaged by fire. The home at 1019 N. Oak had numerous complaints because of its condition and was no longer habitable, Rost said. Neither of the two houses had occupants at the time of the purchase.
The house at 1009 N. Oak was damaged by fire again in early April. Two boys were accused of playing with matches and catching the building on fire.
The city became interested in purchasing the buildings last fall. The owners notified the city the properties were likely to go into foreclosure. Rost began working with the lender to acquire the properties.
Rost said the purchase was the most economical and certainly the fastest way to address the issues with the site. He said the city has no plans to pursue other blighted properties at this time.
“We got the property at a significant discount,” he said. “It’s just something that made sense to do. It will help revitalize that block and remove some blighted buildings. It will make the property values better and offer some opportunities up to people who may need affordable housing.