BANGOR, Maine — Another eyesore in Bangor is coming down to make way for new single-family housing.
On Monday night, Bangor city councilors approved the purchase of a rundown home at 171 Garland St. and gave a plot of land at 120 Third St. to Habitat for Humanity.
The Garland Street property, a boarded up apartment building half a block from Chapin Park, has long drawn the ire of neighbors. Its owner tried to launch a rehabilitation project several years ago, but that effort stalled for lack of financing. Bangor code enforcement officials examined the property, found it was too far gone to renovate and determined it would need to be demolished. The purchase price is $10,000.
In October, city councilors voted to demolish several buildings, including one at 108 Third St., a burned-out home adjacent to 120 Third St. The lot at 120 Third St. is empty, cluttered with debris.
The council voted to sell that .23-acre plot to Habitat for Humanity at a cost of $1, under the condition Habitat build a single-family home on the site. The group has been looking for a spot to launch a new building project in Bangor for several years. A neighborhood revitalization effort is underway in the West Side Village, which includes Third Street. An important goal in that effort is increasing the number of single-family homes.
“We’re excited to find a new family,” Robin Perkins, a Habitat board member, said after the meeting. She said families could apply online or find out whether they’re eligible for the program at habitatbangor.org. Once a family is selected, Habitat will work with them to design and build their new home.
After the building next door at 108 Third St. comes down, the city plans to use funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which provides federal funding toward efforts to revitalize communities plagued by foreclosures or abandonment, to build another single-family home. The details and cost of that project are still being sorted out.
“The one dilapidated very unsightly lot would get turned into two nice single-family homes,” Jeff Wallace, Bangor’s housing rehabilitation coordinator, said last week.
The city is in the midst of a push to clear out abandoned and dangerous properties after the City Council made it clear during the past year that it should be a priority.
Bangor officials have a list of 87 properties registered as being vacant or abandoned. There is a second list of nearly 50 homes, former businesses and apartments the city knows or believes are vacant but have not yet been registered.
The city is asking neighbors to be patient as it chips away at the eyesores that serve as a refuge for squatters, can be fire hazards and drive down property values in the area. Director of Community and Economic Development Tanya Emery and Code Enforcement Officer Jeremy Martin have said their departments receive multiple calls every day from people who want to know why one building or another hasn’t yet been torn down.
“We’re very excited that people see positive impacts in their neighborhood from removing some of these structures,” Emery said, but removing blight doesn’t happen overnight.
Many properties on the city’s list are bank owned and tied up in a lengthy foreclosure process. Several have owners who are difficult to track down or are unresponsive to the city’s attempts to reach them.
“People have to remember that there is a legal process the city has to go through to take care of these,” Emery said. “It’s not as quick and simple as people might think.”
At several of the more oft complained about properties, the city has been putting signs over boarded-up windows that read, “We’re working on it!”
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.