Muskogee Demolishes Derelict Homes, Offers Incentives For New
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Hundreds of houses that are in disrepair in Muskogee are getting torn down. The city is demolishing the houses to make neighborhoods safer and to promote economic development.
Dozers demolished 31 which turned the area into an empty lot. The city hopes people will eventually build new homes and revitalize the community.
All over Muskogee, excavators are tearing into homes and hauling away debris as the city condemned 400 homes, and neighbors like, Janice Sample, are ready for change.
"They have to take down the old to build some new," Sample said. "We like seeing the things that are going on around here, which means they're tearing down these old raggedy houses, cleaning off the lots, making it look nice and I think it's great."
The city hopes to get all the condemned homes bulldozed in two years with the help of tax money and grant funding from the Muskogee Foundation.
Landlord John Clark welcomes the aggressive demolition plan to clean up the neighborhoods.
"And I had one next to one of my rent houses and they've torn it down already and there's nothing there now," he said.
Others, like Christina Brewer, hate to see a part of the city's history disappear.
“I like to see old things renovated, so if they're bulldozing houses around here it's just really sad," she said.
Planning and development director Gary Garvin said a building official makes a ruling on condemning a home after an inspection is made.
Inspectors said bringing the buildings up to code would cost more than the home is worth.
"We'd rather see the structure, the neighborhood, being safer by demolishing it, improving the property values in the neighborhood rather than the other option, just sitting there and continuing to deteriorate," Garvin said.
He said the whole point of the demolition program is to make safer neighborhoods, create economic development and new construction.
Garvin said owners are first given the option to make repairs.
The city currently has incentives that help pay for exterior repairs to the home, building and building homes on an empty lot: $20,000 to repair the exterior in hopes the owners fix the interior and $25,000 for anyone building on the vacant lots who uses local contractors, local building supplies, and permit would be fees waived.