July 17, 1997 in Washington Voices

Residents Say Neighborhood ‘Eore’ Should Be Torn Down Owner Says He Hopes To Complete Renovations By Winter

By The Spokesman-Review

The house at 4314 N. Adams St. sticks out like a bug on a rose.

Residents in the neat-as-a-pin neighborhood are frustrated after waiting more than a year for the owner to fix up what they call an eyesore.

They say the North Side house should have been demolished long ago.

“The building department won’t do a thing,” complained neighbor Kenneth Huss. “That place should be torn down.”

But the city says its hands are tied.

The owner, Gary McWilliams Jr., has a court order preventing the city from demolishing the house and allowing him to go ahead with his rehabilitation plans.

“We do have some concerns as to feasibility of salvaging the structure,” said city building official Bob Eugene.

When the small house was last inspected by the city, there was no permanent foundation, the roof was sagging, the plumbing and electrical systems were questionable, and there was considerable dry rot, said Eugene.

McWilliams has started working on the house, including propping it up on temporary supports to add a foundation, reframing the floor and outside walls and adding new siding. He plans to install new windows this weekend, he said.

There is still much to do.

“He has some valid plans, but the execution is not as rapid as neighbors would enjoy,” said Eugene.

But McWilliams said he’s moving as fast as he can.

He has reason to hurry; he plans to live there when it’s finished.

“There are plans on file. I’ve taken updated information to the city that shows a $96,000 appraisal for the home when it’s finished,” he said.

“I’m the first to admit the project has taken too long, but first I had to defend myself in a lawsuit. The judge agreed I was moving forward with it and have all the approved permits and plans on file.

“I have a track record. I have plenty of experience,” said McWilliams.

He’s owned the house for about a year, and says it had a bad reputation long before that. He said his house and the one next door were built in 1907.

Neighbor Huss said most of the other houses in the neighborhood were built in the 1940s and sell for about $100,000.

McWilliams had a hearing with city building officials last week, and another is scheduled for August to review progress on the project If his funding is approved this month, he expects to have the house finished by winter.

He understands the neighbors’ concerns, but says he’s working as fast as he can.

“I personally wouldn’t want to look at that property,” he said. “Granted, I purchased a nightmare, but I don’t just walk away from a project.”

“I’m going to finish the property just to show the neighbors that this can be a sharp little home,” said McWilliams.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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