Report advises Fisk demolition

By Marianne Renner

The DeKalb City Council received a final report at Monday’s meeting that recommends the demolition of most or all of the three-street DeKalb/Pond/Fisk area because it has deteriorated beyond renovation.

The report from Economic Research Associates concludes DeKalb should fund the purchase of the six-acre area, which could then be demolished and turned into between 100 and 150 multi-family residential units. The area now contains multi-unit rental houses that are either beyond renovation or too costly to repair, according to the report.

The projected cost of the acquisition and demolition of the land is about $1 million, not including $100,000 in relocation expenses for area renters. ERA also projects construction costs of the new housing to be about $4 million.

The City Council’s next step will be to hold public workshops to collect input from area residents.

Third Ward Alderman William Hanna said the report is a starting point from which to expand. “This is good to work from until we determine what can and cannot be preserved. Then we will have a total concept,” he said.

The council also heard reports from the city’s building and community services director regarding a housing rehabilitation program. Director Bill Nicklas said 45 $1,000 grants and 41 loans were dispersed to property owners whose incomes are under HUD-approved limits.

The program was designed to help residential property owners finance exterior repairs. Nicklas said the property improvements were “predominantly in the second, third and fourth wards—mostly third.”

Nicklas also discussed a city-sponsored demolition program, which was designed to remove “unsafe structures in residential neighborhoods.” Nicklas’ report states that 11 structures throughout DeKalb are scheduled for demolition and more will be cited in the future.

In other matters, the council approved a resolution to begin construction of a traffic light at the intersection of Annie Glidden Road and Hillcrest Drive.