German Village Gazette

Merion Village Association

Residents try to keep house from possibly being razed

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GARY SEMAN JR./THISWEEKNEWS
The Merion Village Association is trying to save this vacant duplex at 1138-40 S. High St. from the wrecking ball. Officials said they hope to see it renovated into residences or offices instead of becoming an empty lot.
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The Merion Village Association is trying to save a duplex that's been abandoned for about a decade.

Tony Roell, president of the MVA, said he believes the dilapidated structure at 1138-40 S. High St. can be salvaged.

But, time is running out.

The city of Columbus has given the OK to demolish the house, but has held off whil waiting to see if the neighborhood can find someone interested in improving the property.

Roell said the structure, despite its current appearance, has inherent value.

The 3,194-square-foot house was built in 1928 has a value of $140,000, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Roell said neighborhood residents believe a residence or even offices would be better than an empty lot.

"We're just trying to -- whenever possible -- protect structures like that," he said.

"I think we need to at least help the city rehab the properties or help find someone who can help rehab those properties.

"And, if you look at German Village, it can be done," Roell said.

In 2008, the City Attorney's Office filed a civil case for injunctive relief against the owner, 1140 South High Inc. and the property, 1138-1140 S. High St., said Jaiza Page, an assistant city attorney.

The house was vacant and unsecured, and also had structural problems, such as the chimney bricks, fascia, soffit and rain carriers being in disrepair.

The owner did not respond to the complaint and the city was granted default judgment and a permanent injunction, Page said.

The property remained in violation and a contempt hearing was held in August 2009, where per diem fines and demolition were ordered by Harland Hale, then judge of the Franklin County Environmental Court. The owner did not appear at the hearing.

The demolition was put on hold as the tax foreclosure continued. The property was acquired by the city on April 22 of this year.

The City Land Bank is in the process of cleaning it out to prepare for sale, said John Turner, administrator of the land redevelopment office.

There are some issues with the house that could make the clean-out process take longer than usual, but the city hopes to have it listed for sale in June, Turner said.

"The property is very much a borderline demo candidate based on the amount of water infiltration, but if we can sell the structure to someone committing to a renovation plan, we will do so," he said.

Roell said he's optimistic the house can be sold if the price is right.

"Is it an easy sale? Probably not," he said.

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