IBJOpinion

Abandoned houses should be torn down

October 24, 2009
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

[In response to the Oct. 19 viewpoint] Some of [Kurt] Wiegand’s points were spot-on, but his analysis of the economic impact regarding Mayor Ballard’s plan to demolish abandoned homes misses the mark by a wide margin.

First, consider one of the reasons that population has fled to outside of the Interstate 465 ring at the expense of inner-city Indianapolis: the quality of public education. I know that [IPS superintendent] Dr. [Eugene] White has his hands full and this is not meant as a criticism of his efforts, only a statement of fact. In 2008, Arlington High School, at 4825 N. Arlington Ave., had a graduation rate of 48 percent, according to the Indiana Department of Education. Lawrence Central High School, located at 7300 E. 56th St. (four minutes, or two miles north and east) had a graduation rate of 78.6 percent. If you had a choice of buying a house, which school system would you choose? Fix the school system, reduce the crime and people will buy homes inside of I-465.

Second, Wiegand’s criticisms of the mayor’s plan to demolish abandoned homes ignores economics. It costs approximately $7,000 to smash an abandoned home, cart the rubble away, and make a buildable residential lot. It costs $15,000 to $25,000 to make an abandoned/foreclosed home livable again. After that, the home that you bought at foreclosure for $25,000 and invested another $20,000 in will appraise for $38,000 in today’s market, and be taxed as if it were worth $80,000. This is a real-life experience with which I’m all too familiar. Bottom line: there is very little economic incentive for investors to buy foreclosed homes in inner-city Indianapolis at any price.

Third, Wiegand is critical of the blight that is a vacant lot, but ignores the blight that is an abandoned house. Abandoned homes attract drug dealers, gang activity, vandalism, arson, etc. Ask any inner-city homeowner what he’d rather live next to, an abandoned home or a vacant lot? You know the answer.

Finally, I think that Wiegand ignored the lessons espoused by proponents of “creative destruction.” Cities such as Tokyo that were totally leveled in World War II came back very quickly because they were a blank canvas that people were willing to invest in. As long as the existing stock of abandoned homes blights the inner city, there will be no growth and no economic recovery for the areas that Weigand characterizes as zones of “economic apartheid.”

If you want jobs, economic growth, higher home prices, and more tax revenue, tear down every abandoned home in Indianapolis. It’s that simple.

__________

Bradford Barkley
Rebound Properties LLC


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  • abandon house
    i would to buy a abandon house so i could put my money and time into.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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