Standing in front of a dilapidated house on the South Side, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman pledged to rid the city of its most dangerous vacant and abandoned structures.

Standing in front of a dilapidated house on the South Side, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman pledged to rid the city of its most dangerous vacant and abandoned structures.

The mayor said the city would spend $11.5 million over the next several years to raze 900 of its most distressed properties, including the one directly behind him at a press conference on Feb. 23.

He called the vacant house at 151 E. Innis Ave. a "monument to misery and mayhem."

"It's an eyesore," Coleman said. "It's blight. It's a crime magnet."

The house was slated to be torn down that afternoon and replaced with a new home.

Coleman promised to step up efforts in three areas: enforcement, demolition and restoration. He said a new program - the Vacant and Abandoned Property Unit - would be created at the city level.

Coleman said serial negligent property owners would be called out publicly by having their names published in the newspaper, similar to those who are delinquent on their property taxes.

He also said he would contract with civic groups to maintain the landscaping on vacant properties. The work would be considered sweat equity toward the purchase of the land, he said.

Since 2006, the city has dealt with 2,000 vacant and abandoned homes through the mayor's Home Again program and the national Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Columbus now has 6,200 vacant and abandoned properties, a number that has been growing in the protracted economic downturn, Coleman said.

"We're in a crisis in the city of Columbus and that crisis is all over the country," he said.

Not all of the distressed properties are beyond repair, so some of the money will be used to rehabilitate homes that are salvageable, he said.

He pointed to the Old Oak neighborhood east of Nationwide Children's Hospital, which, he said, will be targeted for rehabilitation as part of the renewed housing effort.

Chuck Patterson, chairman of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, sounded a cautiously optimistic tone about the mayor's plan.

"I'm glad he's looking at the situation with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

Patterson said many of the vacant and abandoned properties in his neighborhood are owned by the city, so he would like them to come down first.

The West Side has been given some renewed attention recently with the Sullivant Avenue overlay project, now in the planning stages, and the construction of the Hollywood Casino, Patterson said.

"There's a lot going on," he said. "The faster the impact the better it will be."