Fighting blight in Peoria: 20 eye sores demolished, 9 restored since 2016

Posted 8/7/20

Blight can lead to increased crime, infrastructure costs and environmental hazards, as well as decreased property values.

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Fighting blight in Peoria: 20 eye sores demolished, 9 restored since 2016

Posted

Twenty buildings in Peoria have been demolished and nine have been restored as part of an abatement program that started in 2016. The Peoria Medical Center is part of the program, but is in process due to bankruptcy. [Submitted photo]

Blight can lead to increased crime, infrastructure costs and environmental hazards, as well as decreased property values.

But ultimately city official say blight is a public safety issue.

So staff started a pilot program in April of 2016 to address abandoned, neglected and fire damaged residential properties in Peoria.

RELATED: Blighted former Smitty's planned to face wrecking ball

Peoria Neighborhood Services Manager Jack Stroud said the program four years later has been a success, leading to the demolition of some of the most unsafe structures in Peoria.

Mr. Stroud said the program was developed to remove blight from Peoria neighborhoods, leading with property owner responsibility.

“Most property owners have cleared their issues by either restoring the property or removing the structure themselves after going through this program,” he said.

From 2016 to 2019, 39 homes have been selected as part of the program, 20 have been demolished, nine have been restored and 10 are still in process.

As part of the program, a third party consulting firm inspects the structures to validate their condition.

The city provides reports to the owners, who are given the right to appeal, repair or demolish.

City officials use the International Property Maintenance Code to address the unsafe structures and seek appropriate remedies.

The International Property Maintenance Code is a publication that includes codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures to provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace.

It also includes a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes without regional limitations.

Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the publication at the state or jurisdictional level, according to IPMC’s website.

The program also includes commercial structures, two in particular that have received attention in recent years. The former Smitty’s on Grand Avenue and 83rd Avenue is expected to be demolished later this month due to more than 30 code violations and being deemed as “dangerous to the life, health, property, or safety of the public,” as well as unfit for occupancy, according to a report commissioned by the city.

Abatement of the unfinished Peoria Medical Center is in process due to a bankruptcy filing that has not yet been decided. Additionally, the Edwards Hotel in Old Town Peoria is planned for renovation.

“There are several properties that have been carried forward on the enhanced abatement list,” Mr. Stroud said. “Two of which are the Edwards Hotel and the Peoria Medical Center. Both structures have been vacant for a long period of time. Both have had delays due to possible sales and/or rehabilitation plans and continue to move towards compliance with our enhanced abatement program.”

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.

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