by Terry Rogers
On Monday, October 26, Milford Director of Public Works, Mike Svaby, presented City Council with a proposal to demolish the building next door to City Hall which currently houses Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI). According to Svaby, when the City purchased the building in 2012, the plan was to demolish it in order to expand City Hall.
“The building at 207 South Walnut was purchased for about $240,000,” Svaby reported. “Pilotown Engineering inspected the building and found significant structural deficiencies. The building sits on a small parcel of land which makes ADA compliance impossible It will cost an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 to demolish the building.”
Councilman Todd Culotta mentioned that the house in question was just two away from his own and that he was well aware that the building needed attention,” Councilman Culotta said. “From a residential standpoint, this house has value. I looked it up on Zillow, which I know has notoriously wrong price information, but it gave me an idea. It shows there as having a value of $175,000. I would rather have an appraiser come take a look and put it on the market. Not just because I live near it, but because it is an historic property. If it does not sell in six months to a year, we can revisit it.”
Councilman Andy Fulton agreed that it would be better to get an estimate and put the home up for sale rather than spend the money to tear it down.
“I have an affinity for old homes,” Councilman Mike Boyle said. “Plus, it is well-suited for the nature of the neighborhood. It has some drawbacks such as access to parking, but we can help with that. I’ve been in it and, yes, it does need work, but it is an attractive house. There are some urban pioneers out there who would love to take it on. This house has some charm.”
Councilman Jason James felt that Council owed it to the taxpayers to try to recover some of the money spent in buying the property. Councilwoman Katrina Wilson recalled when the City purchased the property and that the family who lived there previously would park in the City Hall parking lot which was never a problem.
“There is no rush to have that land for the City,” Councilman Dan Mirabello said. “They don’t need that right now. I say we hold onto it to see what we could recoup for sales. It needs a lot of work by the buyer and whoever buys it will need to put a lot of money in it.”
Councilman Culotta stated that his house, which was purchased as a foreclosure and has required a significant amount of work as well, just appraised for $285,000. He also pointed out there is an alley behind his home that could be used to give access behind the building for anyone who buys it.
“The alley has probably been closed more than 21 years so that makes it a closed alley,” City Manager Mark Whitfield said. “If you got property owners who abutted the alley to sign a petition to open it, the City could take it over. I also want to point out that if we sell this property, we would want to sell it “as is.” The chimney is pulling away from the house so that needs to be addressed fairly quickly.
DMI, who moved into the building in 2013, was provided with notice that the property would be up for discussion and could be demolished. They are currently looking at several properties in Milford that would be suitable for relocation of the DMI offices.