Wrecking ball headed for blighted Woodlawn home

By: Heidi Roman | Royal Oak Review | Published February 1, 2012

 Residents near a vacant house at 303 Woodlawn in Royal Oak pleaded for the City Commission to take action to remove the blight from the neighborhood. The commission voted to seek bids to demolish the structure, which is currently owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Residents near a vacant house at 303 Woodlawn in Royal Oak pleaded for the City Commission to take action to remove the blight from the neighborhood. The commission voted to seek bids to demolish the structure, which is currently owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Photos by Edward Osinski

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ROYAL OAK — Where contractors, owners and renovators gave up, a bulldozer will take over.

A blighted, abandoned home at 303 Woodlawn, near 13 Mile and Rochester roads in Royal Oak, is expected to be torn down after sitting in a dilapidated state for years.

The windows are boarded up and the siding is torn off portions of the home. Attempts by previous owners to spruce up the place were ditched.

“The building was abandoned and gutted by the previous owner in ’09,” said chief building official Jason Craig. “Since then we’ve had no permits on the property and no effort to bring it into compliance.”

Craig said the city has gotten complaints from neighbors over the last couple of years for issues ranging from too-tall grass to garbage on the site. An order to demolish was issued in September when the home was deemed unsafe, but the owner did not comply and the building still stands.

On Jan. 23, the City Commission held a public hearing on the issue, which was the owner’s chance to make a case for the building and avoid the wrecking ball.

Damita Gray, representing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the owner of record, asked for more time. HUD received the property last year in an already blighted state, but she said the home was found to be structurally sound during recent inspections.

“Our plea to you is to allow us to go through the process of marketing this property, get into the spring selling season,” Gray said. “Royal Oak is a premier community and … giving a homeowner a chance to rehab this is I think in everybody’s best interests.”

Nearby residents disagreed, saying “enough is enough,” during the public hearing and arguing that plenty of time had already lapsed.

“I’ve been looking out my window at this abomination literally for years,” said Robert Krajicek. “This house is a lost cause. It’s a blight on the neighborhood.”

Neighbors said the blight is even more visible because it’s a corner lot, not easily hidden by other homes.

Resident Roger Martin said “critters come and go” from the property, and youth hang around the abandoned home.

“It’s a hazard. It’s depressing,” Martin said. “I’ve got two neighbors trying to sell their home, and no one in their right mind would look at a house and see that two doors down, and say, “Yeah, that’s where I want to live.’”

The City Commission unanimously voted to seek bids to tear down the home. The bids will come back to the commission for approval.

“If some solution presents itself from the time we award this contract, then so be it,” said Mayor Jim Ellison. “But I’ve been down this road before and … all we do is lose months. I don’t want to lose months.”

Another public hearing was held for property at 620-646 W. 11 Mile Road, where basements were partially built before a construction project stalled, but the commission tabled the discussion for 90 days for the owner to present liability insurance and take care of the fence in front of the property.
 

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