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Building up communities by tearing houses down

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Beautification of New Castle and Henry County continues building momentum, thanks to the demolition of more dilapidated structures.

Recently, city officials approved demolition work on seven additional properties in continuation of a Blight Elimination Program. Local businessman Randy Neal is doing the demolition work.

The properties are at:

• 1605 and 1609 Irvin St., with New Castle Housing Authority designated as the community partner;

• 1606 G Ave., with Healthy Communities designated as the community partner;

• 921 Broad St. with Healthy Communities designated as the community partner;

• 208 N. 1st St. in Lewisville, with Healthy Communities designated as the community partner;

• 1623 D Ave., with Healthy Communities designated as the community partner; and

• 1414/16 G Ave., with the Henry County Redevelopment Commission designated as the community partner.

“Most of these properties will likely transfer to neighbors as the program winds down,” Ed Hill, the city’s BEP Program coordinator, said. “Others may be used for community gardens, pocket parks or affordable housing.”

The latest efforts are part of Group 2 in Round 2 of the program, administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Ten houses – two for Healthy Communities, four for Interlocal Community Action Program, two for the New Castle Housing Authority and one for Westminster – have been completed to date.

Those homes were located on C, D, and E Avenues, 14th and 19th streets in New Castle; two in Middletown and two on Hillsboro Road.

The State of Indiana, through Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), is using a portion of Indiana’s Hardest Hit Funds to demolish blighted and abandoned homes that are beyond repair. The goal is not simply to demolish abandoned homes, but to stabilize property values in Indiana communities. The partnership between IHCDA and Indiana municipalities allows communities to demolish blighted properties and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared properties, including green space and redevelopment.