City officials are scheduled to begin demolishing Wednesday a five-story apartment block that once housed a pizza place and 11 apartments.
“If you look at it, you can see it is tilting,” Purchasing Director David A. Martins said. “We don’t want to demolish it but no one wants to renovate it.”
The building at 510-516 High St. is located at the corner of Cabot Street and was built in 1890. It has been vacant for at least a decade and was first placed in tax title in 1996. The city officially took possession of it in 2007, according to city documents.
It was put up for sale three times but no buyers were interested, said Kathleen G. Anderson, director of economic development.
Now the apartment block, which measures about 15,872 square feet, has deteriorated so badly that the wall that faces Cabot Street is tilting, which is creating a public safety hazard, Martins said.
“Inside it is all collapsing in,” Martins said. “The inside is completely demolished. You can’t go above the first floor.”
The entire property was last assessed at a value of $273,400 and the land alone is assessed at $91,000. A total of $113,071 is owed on back taxes and fees. The property was previously owned by Seventy-Seven – Seventy-Nine Inc. and earlier by Elizabeth Bedoya, records show.
The building will be razed by Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield, who submitted a bid of $192,319, Martins said.
During the demolition, which is expected to last about 10 days, Cabot Street will be closed from Nick Cosmos Way to High Street and High Street will be reduced to one lane from Worcester Place to Cabot Street, Martins said.
The problem of vacant buildings has been a problem in the city for a number of years, Anderson said.
The city has been working on an urban renewal plan that focuses on the neighborhoods of South Holyoke, Churchill, downtown and the Flats, where most of the vacant buildings are found, Anderson said.
“We are looking building-by-building,” she said. “Our preference is to save as much a we can.”
A team that includes a structural engineer, a Fire Department official, the city engineer and the building commissioner is examining each to see if they can be saved.
The Fire Department also determines if they are safe to enter if they do catch fire. Even if they are unsafe and marked outside with an X, it does not mean those buildings will be demolished, Anderson said.
After the survey is completed, the renewal team will develop a better plan for redevelopment of some of the vacant buildings, she said.
“A lot of the buildings can be rehabed, but there is the cost of rehab and many people need subsidies to do that,” Anderson said. “We are reviewing what buildings can be mothballed and what are safety hazards.”