50 structures demolished in Gainesville to beautify parts of city

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- The city of Gainesville is working to revitalize part of its community. About 50 run down structures have been the first to go.

Through Gainesville's voluntary demolition program, run down structures are being taken down at no cost to the property owner. The service is also helping beautify the city and improve safety.

The city of Gainesville is almost two years into its voluntary demolition project. Structures are being torn down, and now new homes and businesses are popping up.

"I think it can be contagious both ways. As we clean up houses in the neighborhoods, the rest of the neighborhood starts to clean up," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said.

Goldsworthy says the program has two main goals: improving the health and safety of the community, and improving the visual appearance.

The city has budgeted funds to take down vacant, run-down structures like this one at no cost to property owners.

"We look at holes in outer walls, if the roof's caving in, evidence of foundation failure," Chip Matthews said.

Code compliance officer Chip Matthews goes through a long list before deciding a structure should come down. Once it's deemed 50 percent dilapidated, the program kicks in.

"We say if you let us demo this house, and we don't go through all the court proceedings and the court hearings, we'll do it for free and we won't put a lien on the property," city manager Barry Sullivan explained.

"We're 100 percent in support of it," Gainesville resident Aimee Lane said.

Lane lives right across the street from this lot, where a demo took place last year. The block was divided into eight lots. Now, the first home is taking shape.

"To see the city helping bring that around full circle and do something better for the community is, you know, that's the best you can ask for as a resident," Lane said.

Not only are these structures eyesores. But, the city says they're often used as places for illegal activity. So, by tearing them down, it's creating a more safe environment.

"It reduces crime. It starts increasing property values in the area. It helps the economy as far as newer structures being built back on the properties," Matthews said.

Officials say this program can save the property owner up to $8,000.

"We've got a long ways to go still, but the city's committed to pitching in and making sure that project is successful," Goldsworthy said.

If you know of a residential structure that could qualify for the voluntary demolition program, you're asked to call the community services department at (940) 668-4540.

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