….We follow the Landbank agent, Mr. Rep, to the second house on the list. The smaller home with the falling room addition in the back looks smaller than it did the first time.
Paul gets out of his truck, looks at the house and says no. I shake my head at Mr. Rep and yell, “No, next house.”
The rose bushes near the wide driveway in a large lot set off the two wonderfully renovated late-19th century homes on either side of the third house. The redemptive aspects of the original structure is overwhemed by the yellow caution tape wrapped around the porch and surrounding area.
The neighbor on the right walks over. She is at least 60-years old, wearing her bathrobe with curlers in her hair, and a cup of coffee in her hand. Staring over the rim of her glasses, she asks if we are with the city and when are we going to get this house torn down? I let her know I am here to meet an agent from Landbank. She starts complaining about the city and listing all the reasons I do not want to buy this house. Mr. Rep walks up and she begins asking him questions.
Politely he lets her know we are here for business that she is not involved in. She keeps talking until she understands we are not responding and returns to her house. Mr. Rep explains that if the house is demolished, she is slated to purchase the lot for fifty dollars. Should she refuse the $50 offer, it will be made available for auction to the public.
Paul is staring in the basement as Mr. Rep tells us the cement porch collapsed while some neighborhood children were playing on it. He says there is currently no safe entrance for the house so we will not be able to look at the inside.
All four pillars are crumbling. I’d guess they’d been constructed by the same people who built the porch. The house’s original wood structure was covered in siding, the shoddy cement work in front replaced what most likely was a wood porch and pillars. There was probably a termite issue that had gone unchecked and was causing the inner structure to fall into itself. None of the current contractors looking into Landbank investment properties seemed to think they could get a return on the renovation costs for this house.
I look around again. Had the house been caught in the beginning of its downfall, perhaps it may be facing a different fate. Mr. Rep says the Landbank staff is pretty confident the structure is doomed to be demolished. I tell myself, “Nothing on this earth is supposed to last forever,” as we all return to our vehicles.
I waive goodbye to Paul as he drives off, ready to give a report to Deborah, their church small group that are praying for me, and his friends who are also building contractors. I walk over to Mr. Rep and let him know of my family’s light-handed involvement in real estate and property renovation. I mention my years of inner city missions and involvement with urban renewal/neighborhood transformation. My closing statement indicates I am very interested in the Primrose house and will be submitting an application for that home only.
I look back towards the house with the yellow tape and see the neighbor looking out from her window, smiling.
…. To be continued….