City planners explain demolition plan for abandoned Birmingham homes

City planners explain demolition plan for abandoned Birmingham homes

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Are you tired of seeing abandoned homes and overgrown lots around Birmingham? City planners are working to clean up the streets with a demolition plan. Officials updated the city council on the proposal at a meeting this week.

Council President Johnathan Austin said this is more than just making sure Birmingham neighborhoods look good from the outside. He said there are thousands of empty buildings across the city that are also a safety concern for residents.

"The families oftentimes move out and they may leave intestate and this is what happens," said Kamau Afrika.

Afrika is sick of seeing abandoned buildings in his community of Smithfield. He is ready for significant improvements to be made to the city's landscape.

"The north and west side of town has been neglected for too long," said Afrika.

"It took the city awhile to get in the shape it's in, it's going to take us awhile to get us out of the shape we're in and to breathe life back into our neighborhoods," said Austin on Wednesday.

City planners said there are about 1,200 vacant houses on their radar right now. Of that number, 300 been condemned by the city council and are ready to be demolished. Planners estimate it will take about $1.8 million and six months for those structures to come down.

"There is the process of identifying the property owner, notifying the property owner, and there's a whole list of steps and things that must take place prior to a home being demolished," said Austin.

The demolitions will take time to execute. Austin is optimistic about the plan and he hopes Birmingham residents will be too.

"That's an aggressive program," said Afrika. "I welcome anything, but I've heard things for thirty-five years now."

"For all the property owners out there or the residents who live next to abandoned properties, I will tell them that help is on the way," said Austin.

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