Ledger Inquirer: Condemned house gets a new lease on life

March 3, 2013 

I came across a pleasant surprise last week as I was driving to an assignment.

Extremely Loyal Readers may recall almost two years ago when we visited an overgrown and dilapidated house at the corner of Warm Springs Road and 15th Avenue.

It belonged to one Ken Burgess, and the reason it had fallen into disrepair was that Burgess had died in 2009.

Eventually, the house was condemned and put on the demolition list and on my list of things not to worry about anymore.

Well, imagine my surprise when I drove down Warm Springs and saw the brick house painted a nice light gray and a work crew tearing out stuff in preparation for renovation.

I checked city records and, while Burgess' Available Properties is still listed on tax records as the owner, a building permit was recently issued to Thomas Upchurch Property, which is apparently renovating the place.

This happens occasionally when a condemned house is salvageable and everybody's happy … except probably the vagrants who had been using the old place for all manner of nefarious activity.

Sometimes condemnations don't work out so well.

Fast forward about a year to April 2012, when we visited Brenda Bryant on Winchester Drive. She and her family have a nice pool in their backyard that they keep sparkling. But the house next door is abandoned, and it has a pool that looks like a bad high school science project.

The swampy pool and overgrown yard were breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which range from being annoying to lethal, and for very loud bullfrogs.

"They're so loud in the evenings, you can't carry on a conversation in the yard," she told me.

It, too, was condemned. But it's neither been demolished nor has anyone stepped forward to salvage the house. I'm told it's not irredeemable due to foundation problems that make the structure list to starboard.

I heard back from Brenda recently, reporting that nothing had been done at the house, and we're closing in on frog and mosquito season. She sure is hoping something is done before the pests start breeding.

Normally, I would call my friend Rebecca Wiggins, a property inspector with the city's Inspections and Codes department, to get information. In fact, I did talk to Rebecca last week, but it was at a reception honoring her retirement after 26 years with the city.

During the reception, one woman wondered loudly, "Who's that guy in the newspaper going to quote now?"

Lady, that's a darn good question.

Seen something that needs attention, or know a good source in the Inspections and Codes department? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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