In 1892, the red brick house on E Street was a home with curb appeal before there may have been a curb.
Through the years it retained much of its charm. The stained glass windows, wooden door moldings, metal door bell ringer attached to the front door, tuck-under closet beneath the banistered stairs.
The front stairs lead to an expansive second story with its own unique skylight and back stairs to the kitchen.
But in other ways the years were unkind. The bricks have fallen away from the front corner, painted over wooden floors are rough and uneven. And representatives of the Healthy Community Partnership Housing Task Force said the basement and foundation is crumbling, which would cost too much to fix. The house, which was last sold in 2002, has been vacant more than a year.
In June, the once tidy house on a large fenced-in lot is slated for demolition.
The purpose of the program is to identify substandard housing, purchase the property, demolish or rehabilitate the home, then either donate the property to Habitat for Humanity or sell it to a buyer interested in providing an affordable single family home.
The goal is to reduce the number of blighted homes in Brainerd.
Jennifer Bergman, Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) executive director, said the task force is hoping Habitat for Humanity will take the northeast site and build a home there.
Thursday, task force members walked through the home.
“I would have loved to have the money to reinvest in this place,” said Rick Fargo, Progressive Property Management. Anne Nelson Fisher, task force chair, said the city had many calls on the house, but when people found out about the repairs needed, the calls dried up.
The HRA is the title owner of the home, which was purchased from Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation for $5,000. That low purchase price is expected to translate to a savings for the eventual buyer.
The task force has a checklist to determine eligible homes for the project. The list includes homes that are beyond repair and ones that won’t be taken by the private market.
They said the E Street home fit the category and they’ve turned down other homes they felt could be repaired.
The task force previously canvassed the city to find the area with the greatest concentration of substandard housing, which they determined was from about 11th Street Southeast to 19th Street Southeast from Laurel to Pine streets. Jeff Torfin, with the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors, previously said the number of vacant homes has skyrocketed as a result of the foreclosure crisis and blighted homes reduce the property values for neighbors.
The E Street demolition is expected to remove the tall wooden perimeter fence and any dead trees. The live trees, including a large pine tree by the front of the house, will be saved if possible, Bergman said. Habitat is taking a storage shed on the site and has already removed fixtures, such as kitchen cabinets.
Money for the purchases and demolitions come from task force partners, including the Brainerd HRA, Crow Wing County HRA, Greater Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Greater Lakes Association of Realtors and the Initiative Foundation. The task force is also applying for additional funds. The house on E Street is its first purchase.
“The more funds we can get, the more houses we can buy,” Bergman said. “This program is really intended to try to improve on neighborhoods.”
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5852.