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Brainerd City Council: City to buy, tear down problem house

The city will buy a long-time problem house to avoid potential future costs to taxpayers and alleviate an eyesore from a neighborhood. At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group voted to buy the ailing house at 410 12th Street Southeast...

The city will buy a long-time problem house to avoid potential future costs to taxpayers and alleviate an eyesore from a neighborhood.

At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group voted to buy the ailing house at 410 12th Street Southeast for $3,500, the amount that's owed in back taxes, from Crow Wing County.

The group also approved spending an additional $1,500 for demolition of the house.

The house and land has seen several issues over the past several years:

• There's $1,795 in lot cleanup expenses assessed to it by the city, dating back to 2008.

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• There's $99 in mowing expense from 2013 assessed to it by the city.

• The house has been condemned since August 2011. Contractor costs to remove the house are $3,300.

• The property has about $3,500 in back taxes.

• The property is going tax forfeit in October.

City council member Kelly Bevans said if the council allows the house to be tax forfeited, it will cost "considerably more in dollars and cents and time."

The county has control of the property since it has gone through probate. Since it won't be tax forfeited until October, the house would not otherwise be removed until Spring 2016, city officials said.

By buying the land, city staff can demolish the house and the neighborhood eyesore could be erased a year sooner, staff said. The city has been trying to demolish the structure since 2011, said assistant city engineer Jesse Freihammer in a memo to the council.

The front part of the lot could then be sold to the Housing Redevelopment Authority or Habitat for Humanity, he said. That would mean a new house would maintain or improve the tax base.

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The city could use the back part of the lot for stormwater purposes.

City council member Mary Koep said the city may be able to get more money for the property if the front part of the lot was sold in the private market.

City Engineer Jeff Hulsether said once the house is taken down, city staff will look into selling it. Hulsether added that HRA already said they aren't interested in the lot and Habitat for Humanity is going to take a look at it.

No adjacent property owners have been approached with the option of buying it yet, either.

"It's a decent, buildable lot," Hulsether said.

With the purchase, the city won't get the cleanup costs of $1,795 assessed to it.

Some of the purchasing costs could be offset if the front part of the property is sold, Freihammer said.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessie.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .

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