A $500,000 grant will help the Athens County Land Bank demolish dilapidated homes

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — In Athens County, there are a number of houses that are abandoned, filled with trash, and falling apart.

Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development, the Athens Land Bank will be demolishing up to eight of these homes. 

A dilapidated home in Athens County
A dilapidated home in Athens County. [Jensen Knecht | WOUB]
Athens County Treasurer Ric Wasserman said the houses are “dangerous, sometimes the property around it is so far grown you get snakes. I mean taking care of blight, which is what these buildings are, is a major goal of the Athens County Land Bank, and it will benefit the community by getting rid of the blight.”

The goal of tearing these houses down is to replace them with new homes or other buildings.

“We’ve managed to tear down close to 50 different structures in many different parts of the county and we’ve seen new houses built in communities where new houses haven’t been built for maybe 10 or 15 years,” Wasserman said.

The buildings targeted for demolition are often so far gone they cannot be salvaged, said Athens County Commissioner Chris Chmiel. One two-story brick building simply collapsed one night, he said.

Getting rid of this blight will also make the communities more attractive for potential residents and businesses, Wasserman said. “Nobody wants to rebuild in the downtown where there’s a bunch of dilapidated buildings and of course in other cases these buildings are being used by drug dealers.” 

New houses being built would also mean more revenue will be brought in for the area. Wasserman explained how the Land Bank is trying to raise revenue by selling pieces of land and the new owners would then pay taxes that will go back to the community.

The Land Bank has been preparing since July 2021 to ensure the project has a quick turnaround time. The Land Bank plans to demolish these houses by the middle of 2023.