The Town of Smyrna has spent much the last decade dealing with vacant properties in town and while a lot of the buildings have been addressed, there's still more work to do.
There are a handful of properties in town Smyrna is either directly addressing, monitoring as potential problems, or working with property owners to fix the issues. There are also a number of properties that are of concern to town officials because of their location, visibility and vulnerability due to neglect.
Town Manager Dave Hugg and Manager of Building & Inspections Grant Prichard say the list of buildings that need to be addressed has dwindled in recent years. When there is an issue though, the town typically prefers to work with a property owner.
"It's a long process," Hugg said. "We do want to work with property owners to correct the issues rather than swoop in and demand changes."
A lot of buildings in town have been a work in progress for years. Prichard said a lot of times someone will purchase a property and it takes time renovating because of the cost. For example, the property at 153 to 157 S. Main St. was bought and the renovation is near completion; however, there are still boards on the windows. Prichard said the boards are still up because the windows were expensive to replace and the owner is waiting to take the boards off.
"Sometimes it's cheaper and easier to building something new," Prichard said.
Another renovation that's nearing completion is the work done to the old Smyrna Theater. Ed and Cheryl Ide bought the property and are leasing the first floor to the owners of Painted Stave Distilling.
Hugg said the changes to the building are a huge addition to the town. Ed Ide, who runs engineering and construction management firm i3a, said it was never his and Cheryl's intention to buy the property, it just happened. Ide said it started with a conversation with Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen, owners of the distillery, regarding some engineering questions.
"It was for sale and it was suggested we buy it," Ide said. "We don't do this stuff. It just happened."
Now the Ides love the building and feel it's a perfect place for an office; i3a is now housed out of the building. Extensive renovations have been done to the building, but they're trying to restore the feel of the old theater.
The Ides also recently purchased the property at 1 N. Main Street in Smyrna. They'll begin renovations on the property next year with the plans of putting residences upstairs and a business of some sort in the first floor.
"It's neat and exciting to see this happening and to be a part of it," Cheryl said. "Growing up in Smyrna you don't think you'd ever be a part of something like this and here we are."
Hugg and Prichard believe the purchase of 1 N. Main St. could be a catalyst for the redevelopment of other properties in town.
The town also has a Redevelopment Authority that could be used to address vacant properties in town; however, the authority is inactive at the present time. There's also a vacant buildings fund that can be used as a revolving fund to deal with dilapidated properties, but is relatively new so the town hasn't had the chance to take advantage of it.
"There has been significant interest on the part of the council and Business Development subcommittee to be active as the Redevelopment Authority," Hugg said.
Mayor Joanne Masten feels the town is making progress identifying vacant properties but there is more work required. She said there are vacant properties on High Street, Mount Vernon Street, Collins Avenue, Delaware Street, East Commerce Street and East Street that need to be addressed.
Masten said some of these properties are owned by individuals while others are owned by banks, but the owners have been advised that work is required to bring the properties up to code.
"Personally I would like to see all properties brought up to code as soon as possible," Masten said. "The important thing to remember is there is a process currently in place that must be followed in order for the town to recoup any expenses that they may incur."
Properties the town is addressing or monitoring
127 S. East St. – purchased at Sheriff Sale, renovations underway16 N. Main St. – for sale by owner125 Lincoln St. – purchased, renovations underway127 Lincoln St.128 Lincoln St.27 – 29 E. North St. – abandoned, currently in process to be demolished as a "dangerous" building537 W. Mt. Vernon St. – persistent, long-term dilapidated structure112 S. Delaware St. – vacant property; maintenance required in rear yard, vegetation, and construction debris in yard431 – 437 Smyrna-Clayton Blvd. – saved from demolition with extensive exterior and interior clean-up and salvage41 W. Mt. Vernon St. – vacant, exterior and interior renovations in progress as a result of enforcement actions153 – 157 S. Main St. – major renovations nearing completion for new apartments106 W. Commerce St. – major ongoing renovation of a historic structureProperties of concern because of location, visibility – all are vacant, inactive properties
19 – 21 W. Commerce St. – new owner, under renovation for new restaurant2 N. Main St.6-8-10 N. Main St. – Town of Smyrna owned, marketing as economic development potential1 N. Main St. – under contract, anticipated renovations for mixed use occupancy47 E. Commerce St.