Hammond will review status of abandoned grocery store

2013-04-29T17:53:00Z 2013-04-29T23:45:08Z Hammond will review status of abandoned grocery storeChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | A city board has pushed back a decision to order the demolition of an abandoned grocery store to late June.

City Attorney Kris Kantar recently requested the Hammond Board of Public Works and Safety require the building that formerly housed Hammond Fresh Market at Hohman Avenue and Gostlin Street be returned to the condition it was in when originally abandoned last July. That would include replacing all the boarded up windows with glass and reinstalling electricity.

Area businesses have reported issues with insects following the store’s abandonment that left food on the shelves for months. Kantar said while a report from a pest control company denied a presence of insects, she recalled testimony from the general manager of neighboring Porter’s Apparel who told the board in March he saw insects piled up 2 inches thick through the windows.

“When it was the (grocery store) no one was breaking windows and dropping junk tires behind it,” Kantar said. “Now that it’s in the bank’s control, it’s looking worse and worse.”

The store’s windows were boarded up because of recent vandalism, said Greg Bouwer, who represented lender Archer Bank at last week’s meeting. Bouwer said a foreclosure hearing is set for early June on the property, and the bank already has talked to potential buyers.

“Someone can acquire it and operate a business,” Bouwer said. “My bank is not in the business of opening it and operating it in the meantime.”

Bouwer argued it didn’t make sense to do more repairs on the building until it has a new owner.

Hammond Chief of Inspections Jim Callahan said he was concerned about how long the windows would be left boarded up since Hohman Avenue is a main street. City ordinance requires windows to be unboarded within 90 days, Kantar said.

The board set a status hearing on the property for its June 27 meeting.

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