Lake Station program turns abandoned houses into available homes

2013-08-17T19:45:00Z 2013-08-17T22:23:05Z Lake Station program turns abandoned houses into available homesDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | Mayor Keith Soderquist can envision a wonderful life for the family who moves into a once abandoned house undergoing renovation.

The city is starting the "It's A Wonderful Life" program by renovating a single-story, three-bedroom ranch-style house in the 4800 block of 26th Avenue.

"We are doing it one house at a time," Soderquist said.

The new program is being initiated through the Economic Development Board with about $25,000 to $30,000 in start-up money.

The ranch home was selected to kick off the program because it is one of the few abandoned houses the city owns and is in a nice, stable area of Lake Station, Soderquist said.

The house, which had been part of a bank repossession, had been abandoned for three years and frozen pipes had burst, destroyed the interior.

"The bank said they'd like to donate the house to the city," Soderquist said.

Renovation started in mid-July.

Jim Moss, a city employee, is serving as the project foreman for the project with much of the work being completed in house by his fellow city employees.

The house, which had to be gutted due to the frozen pipes, is receiving new siding, new windows and doors and a new wooden deck.

Workers are also renovating a detached two-car garage and adding new landscaping in the front and back yards, Soderquist said.

The interior of the house will include updated electrical wiring, new appliances as well as new drywall and flooring.

"The house should be completed by mid-September then ready to go on the market," Soderquist said.

It's still being determined how the house will be sold whether through bids, an auction or through a Realtor.

Soderquist expects the completed house to be appraised at around $80,000 to $90,000.

"The whole point is to get a stakeholder back into the house and back paying taxes. Then you build a strong community," Soderquist said.

Once the house is finished, any profits will be used by the city to renovate other houses or even build new houses.

The city owns three or four abandoned houses and also owns multiple lots including several on the west end, where a 2008 flood destroyed numerous houses.

"Our next project will be on the west end," Soderquist said.

Soderquist said Lake Station is not alone in facing the problem of what to do with abandoned homes.

"I hope this gets catchy. We're all coming up with our own unique ways of handling this problem and this is ours," Soderquist said.

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