Forty St. Joseph structures are on the list to be knocked down by the city between now and the end of June 2020, coming on the heels of 42 homes that were demolished in the last year.
Approximately $240,000 is spent to bring buildings down annually, with money coming from two funds: federal Community Development Block Grants, accounting for $140,000, and $100,000 from St. Joseph’s general fund, according to Clint Thompson, St. Joseph’s Director of Planning & Community Development.
“We also have approximately $60,000 to $70,000 in funds set aside for securing properties and working with property owners to stabilize the property,” Thompson said. “The dangerous building processes is not a tool the city uses to eliminate our historic building stock. It’s to protect and encourage redevelopment in our neighborhoods and help eliminate the blight that may exist from a vacant structure that is beyond repair.”
St. Joseph openly charts all the buildings in the city with a program known as Building Blocks, which can be found at st-joseph-mo.tolemi.com. The software can tell the year the structure was built, the assessed value, as well as details behind property maintenance fines. The whole map can be toggled to include solely vacant properties, and possibly in the future, rental properties within the city.
Thompson said the process of sending out the first letter to a dangerous building property owner, the dangerous building hearing, bidding the work out to a contractor and then allowing time for the home to be demolished can take on average 120 days.
“Federal requirements can slow down that process somewhat because of the use of federal funds and the requirements to receive approval from the State Historic Preservation Office,” Thompson said.
The next step to the city’s effort to fix the blighted properties or demolish the buildings that can’t be saved will be the land bank. It was signed into law by Missouri Governor Mike Parson at St. Joseph City Hall on June 11.
“There will be consideration and assisting the land bank in looking to acquire property that may be a candidate for the use of demolition program fund,” Thompson said. “Or also the ability to utilize other funds to help stabilize the structure to assist with private development.”