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Valparaiso city officials, employees settling into temporary home

The city's temporary headquarters during renovations at City Hall is the former Hayes Leonard Elementary School, 653 Hayes Leonard Road. Residents are asked to enter Door 5 during the day for city business and smaller meetings. Larger meetings will be held in the school's gym and can be accessed through Door 1.

VALPARAISO — Three homes in Valparaiso are temporarily coming off the demolition chopping block as their new owners have agreed to make repairs.

The houses on 354 Haas St., 1005 Kentucky St. and 756 Franklin St. were all recently sold at a sheriff's auction, and their new owners are trying to save their newly acquired properties, according to Alfredo Estrada, an attorney working with Building Commissioner Vicki Thrasher.

“We are in contact with the servicer of the property (on 354 Haas),” he said. “The two new owners (of 1005 Kentucky) reported to commissioner Thrasher they are three weeks into repairs.”

Estrada asked the board of works to delay any hearings on the properties for another month so they can see if the new owners make progress.

“It's our thought that after repairs are done, we would present the board with an order to withdraw the order of demolition so they could go on to sell it without any hindrance,” he said. “That's up to the board's discretion. If the progression is where the building commissioner is not happy nor the board, we'll proceed with the hearing.”

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The Franklin house already had quotes for demolition. Considering its condition, the current owner is having the home inspected to see if demolition is the best option.

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"I think it's a reasonable request and to save the city money in the process of paying those costs," Estrada said.

City Administrator Bill Oeding welcomed the moves, as he would like to see the homes return to a livable condition.

“I'd love to see these houses saved and made whole again so they can be sold,” he said. “I'm not familiar with the Haas street house, but the Kentucky Street house has been in disrepair for many years. Our time to get this fixed and back in order should be very short.”

Going after derelict residences has become a priority for Thrasher and the building department. Earlier this year, her department received financial aid from the redevelopment commission to get extra legal help in demolishing blighted and unsafe homes.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Maximilian Kwiatkowski covers government in Porter County. Previously he has covered the U.S. Army, the Illinois State Legislature and rural Ohio politics.