EAST CHICAGO | The city has requested demolition bids for a total of 28 vacant properties, starting the second phase of a project intended to remove blight in East Chicago.
The buildings are mainly in the South Side and Carey-Drummond areas and are considered condemned and unsafe.
"These properties have been vacant for years and years," Mayor Anthony Copeland said.
The city issued notices in the fall, offering any property owners a chance to make their own demolition arrangements. One owner voluntarily demolished a vacant building.
The first phase of demolitions was completed in August. In all, 25 vacant buildings were removed in the North Harbor area of the city.
"We're putting them in sizable chunks to try and get the best bang for the buck," Copeland said. "If it's too big, the smaller companies can't bid. But cluster them just right, and you get a good mix of bids from different companies."
More than 700 properties have been identified as problem buildings, but not all are scheduled for razing. Copeland said he hopes the third phase will consist of about 50 abandoned buildings.
Copeland said property owners will be able to participate in a new lot program, where small neighboring vacant lots can be purchased at reduced rates.
"On those lots, we would work with the residents, but our only demand is they have to fence it and seed it," he said. "Or they might be able to use it to build a garage, but it has to be fenced in."
Larger lots will be used to attract new development to the city.
More than $3 million has been set aside to deal with blight in the city, Copeland said. Funding for the demolitions has come from multiple sources, including part of a $17 million grant from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, Foundations of East Chicago and state resources.
Bids will be accepted at the city engineer's office until noon Feb. 26. A mandatory prebid meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.