- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
This is a view of one wing of Cherry Street Manor in the 2100 block of East Cherry Street. This former nursing home, long ago abandoned, has been ravaged by fire and vandalized by looters. It is on the list for demolition whenever the city can work it in at a probable cost of several hundred thousand dollars. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
It’s a long and seemingly unending task, but the City of Paris last month resumed the demolition of dilapidated houses and other structures – in all four quadrants of the city.
“To sum it up, we’re back in business,” Robert Talley, code enforcement supervisor for the City of Paris, said Thursday.
Sanitation Solutions, which has both the city’s demolition contract and landfill contract, tore down eight houses in June, with one more due to come down any day.
Those are the first city-ordered demolitions in Paris since June of last year.
Talley said it’s likely that more demolition work orders will be coming each month for the foreseeable future. Paris has no shortage of dilapidated and abandoned housing.
The city’s Building and Standards Commission, which issues the “demolish or else” orders to property owners, went from August of 2011 to February of 2012 without meeting, as did similar boards in other Texas towns.
A lawsuit in Dallas challenged the constitutionality of such actions by citizen boards. That was resolved this spring; local boards can order the demolitions, but citizens have procedures by which they can appeal.
“We’re in full steam with the city’s Building and Standards Commission meeting again,” said Talley, noting that a new list of properties will be going to the board every month.
The most recent demolitions in the city were the result of orders to property owners by the BSC on April 19 to demolish in 30 days “or we will.” The deadline passed in May, and eight of the properties were torn down in June.
About 25 other properties failed to comply with demolition orders issued by the BSC at its May 21 meeting, and many of them will be on the demolition work order Talley will give to Sanitation Solutions next week.
“Before I put out the next work order, I’ll probably go out (today), or maybe Monday, depending on how busy I am, and make one more drive around to make sure nothing’s changed, and take a picture of the property,” Talley said.
“We give a work order, say 150 Southeast Third Street, or whatever, to the demolition contractor and staple to the work order a picture of the house. From there, they give it to their drivers and operators, who will tear it down,” Talley said.
“I give them the order, and they tear them down as fast as they can,” Talley said.
All of the properties that go before the Building and Standards Commission are on private property. Many of them are in the names of absentee owners.
The city places a lien on the properties for the cost of the demolition and the landfill cost.
It’s hard to calculate the amount of the lien, Talley said.
“It’s all by weight. If you’re tearing down a little wooden structure that’s maybe 600 square feet, well, obviously that’s not going to cost as much as a rock structure,” he said.
“We’ve had demolitions that cost from $300 or $400, all the way up to one rock structure that we tore down on West Kaufman Street for $10,936,” he said.
The long-abandoned Cherry Street Manor in the 2100 block of East Cherry Street – is among the properties that the BSC condemned during its May 21 meeting.
Long on the radar of Paris city councils, the former nursing home over the years has been victimized by vandals and gutted by fire.
Until recently, the city was prevented from taking action because the property’s owner was being sued in federal court in Kentucky.
Mayor AJ Hashmi has said that, to control costs, he prefers to delay demolition of Cherry Street Manor until the City of Paris can get its own crew trained and certified not only for demolition but for asbestos removal.
Because of the size of the complex (about 93,000 square feet) and asbestos issues, Talley agrees it will be an expensive tear-down, compared to most other structures that come before the Building and Standards Commission.
He won’t run out of dilapidated structures to take to the board, Talley said.
There’s no shortage of dilapidated housing in Paris, Talley noted, saying hundreds of other vacant and dilapidated properties have been “red-tagged” by code enforcement.
Among the properties the Building and Standards Commission condemned in May was the Cherry Street Manor, a long-vacant nursing home in the 2100 block of East Cherry Street. Over the years, it has been victimized by fire and by vandals.
Because it will take several hundred thousand dollars to take down the 93,000-square-foot structure, the city council likely will be involved in the decision on when that one comes down.
The property has significant asbestos issues, which will run up the costs because removing asbestos requires special training.
Frustrated by the collapse in mid-January of a building downtown that had been condemned months ago, the Paris City Council recently asked Talley to supply each month an update on dilapidated structures.
“This column shows the deadline to comply with the BSC order, this column shows when the demolition order was given to Sanitation Solutions, and this column show when demolition or repair was completed,” Talley said.
“I’ve got two more houses to give them,like, right now,” Talley said. “Then they’ve got the rest of that list, however more there is. The next work order will probably be for 20 to 23 houses.”
A lot of the city’s vacant property is not substandard, Talley noted.
“But suppose lightning strikes a tree that falls right in the middle of the house. It’s beyond repair, and it just sits there. When you do the research, the owner lives out of state and nobody does anything with it.”
The fire marshal keeps him informed about fires that occur in the city.
By April 19, the Building and Standards Commission had issued “30 days to demolish” orders on the following structures:
The following came before the BSC at its May meeting and were given 30 days to demolish, or the city would do it and bill the owner:
send comments about this article to