Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two homes next to each other on West High Street in Elkhart were ordered demolished by the city Wednesday. The properties at 615 and 619 W. High St. have numerous code violations and have been vacant for several years. (Dan Spalding/The Elkhart Truth)

Thick thatches of weeds are growing in some of the gutters on one of the West High Street houses that city officials hope to see demolished. (Dan Spalding/The Elkhart Truth)

Several young trees have sprouted up in front of 619 W. High St. In the background is the front door with numerous notices from the city. The house and another next to it were ordered to be demolished by a hearing officer Wednesday. (Dan Spalding/The Elkhart Truth)
Demolition ordered on several Elkhart houses
Posted on June 26, 2014 at 12:13 a.m.

ELKHART — Two identical houses, apparently built around the same time, now are deemed a public hazard and are facing demolition.

The two gray two-story homes sit side-by-side on the far end of West High Street on a curve in the street just a few yards from the St. Joseph River.

Both houses at 615 and 619 W. High Street have been vacant for several years after the owner died and her numerous residential properties fell into receivership.

The homes had belonged to Marjorie Marshall but were recently turned over to Crail Holdings LLC, which had been informed by the city of Elkhart of intentions to seek demolition.

A representative of the holding company did not attend a hearing Wednesday on the properties, and a request by the city to demolish both houses was affirmed by hearing officer Lee Roy Berry.

Crail will have 30 days to demolish the houses. If no action is taken, the city will have two years to demolish the properties, according to building commissioner Denny Correll.

A garage that is part of one of the two properties will also be demolished, Correll said.

In recent years, the city has tracked the properties’ conditions, boarded up numerous first-floor windows and tried to keep the grass cut even though some the property currently looks overgrown.

The combined cost of maintaining the two properties, according to a code enforcement officer who spoke at the hearing, is close to $2,400.

Several other cases involving residential properties were also reviewed Wednesday. Those include:

■ A house on 136 Wagner Ave. was ordered to be demolished. Correll said the owner expressed a willingness to do the work.

■ A house at 1716 Oakland Ave. was ordered demolished. The owner, Pearl Suggs, said she cannot afford the cost of demolition. If nothing happens in 30 days, the city will be authorized to take action to demolish the structure.

■ A house at 916 Willard St. has been the focus of a land contract dispute. Robert Fink, of Elkhart, had been making payments on the house for several decades to Jim Artley, of Edwardsburg, Mich.

Fink made some recent repairs to the house but said he’s had trouble re-establishing a connection with a utility company after the house fell into disrepair.

By the end of the hearing, he agreed to turn the property over to Artley, who said he has a buyer interested.

Correll said anyone who buys the house will be expected to make improvements to the building to meet city building codes.