Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tearing Down Blight

As much as I love old houses and historic preservation, sometimes tearing down blighted buildings needs to be done. It's best as a last resort, when all other avenues have been tried. In some cases, it's also a good way to improve a row of houses. Many streets in Waterbury have triple-deckers that were built so close to one another, you can barely walk between them. Strategic removal can help a street to "breathe" and can make more off-street parking or outdoor living possible.

168 Wood Street started life as a beautiful triple-decker. Great details to the woodwork, classic proportions, good design. Unfortunately, it was abandoned a long time ago, probably several decades ago. By 2006, it had become not only an eyesore, but a magnet for garbage, drug dealing, and worse. At least one murder was committed in the abandoned house, in 2006. Despite repeated community efforts to clean up the property, it has continued to accumulate trash, litter, and drug dealing. Meanwhile, other triple deckers on that part of the street are well-maintained, but the owners of those buildings struggle to find good tenants, thanks to their proximity to 168 Wood Street.

168 Wood Street in October 2007

In January, Waterbury Development Corporation put the demolition of the property out to bid. Today, the house was torn down.

Hopefully something good will come of this. Dividing the empty lot in half, increasing the yard space for the houses on either side, might work well. Both properties gain more land, and no one can fill the lot back up with another cramped building.

The remains of 168 Wood Street.

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