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Local

Sycamore neighbors happy to see abandoned house demolished

Building had been vacant for years, new owner plans new use

SYCAMORE – Tom Campbell is happy the vacant residential building next to his house is gone.

He took photographs on his phone Monday morning to document the demolition of the former multi-unit home, which stood at the corner of High and Maple streets in Sycamore. The structure had two addresses – 130 W. High St. and 308 S. Maple St.

“It’s been an eyesore for many years,” said Campbell, who has lived in the house next door with his wife, Debbie, for 30 years. “I’m glad to see someone is able to buy it and do something with this lot. It certainly will make a difference for this part of town.”

Campbell said the building had been vacant since 2011, but the former owner couldn’t afford to tear down the structure.

“Just the process of tearing it down costs $40,000,” Campbell said. “They wanted to put some paint on it since 2011.”

Campbell recalled an incident in the spring of 2012, which may have left the building unusable.

“The water pipe burst,” Campbell said. “Water was gushing out for a day or so. It was really the beginning of the end for the building. The house was never really the same after that.”

John Sauter, director of building and engineering for the city of Sycamore, said he vaguely remembered that incident.

“One of the water pipes had frozen and burst,” Sauter said. “At the time, if I remember correctly, we called the owner and had them fix it.”

Before the place was vacant, it housed between one and three families.

Construction worker Rene Maldonado, who took about two hours to surgically raze most of the building – most of the outside walls around the first floor still stand – showed up to the site about 7 a.m.

Maldonado walked through each of the rooms inside the building a few minutes later to make sure nobody was inside.

There were signs that someone had recently been at the house. A white bag that read “Taco Puff” could be seen, and there was trash on the floor and holes in the walls. In one room, a door – with a No. 3 on it – leaned against a wall.

Sauter said having the structure there has been a challenge for several years.

“We’re happy to see someone buy the property, take out the old building and build a new one,” Sauter said.

Architect Steve Bollinger of Sycamore bought the property for $27,000, with plans to begin building something new on the property later this month.

“I want to build a beautiful, handicapped-accessible duplex,” Bollinger said Friday. “It’ll be very ‘Geneva-esque.’ ”

Bollinger said one side of the duplex will face High and one side will face Sycamore Baptist Church on South Maple. Each unit will have its own garage.

“I’m still trying to decide whether to go with all brick or half-brick,” Bollinger said.

He said the cost to demolish the building and clean up the site will cost about $15,000, and the work should be done by Tuesday.

Maldonado said there’s about 45 to 50 tons of rubble and debris on the site, which should require about five truckloads to haul away everything.

“It’s a bigger home,” Maldonado said.

Bollinger said he’s the property’s sixth owner since 2013.

“Everybody thought they could rehab it,” Bollinger said. “The last guy had it for less than a year. When he found he couldn’t rehab it, he sold it.”

The new place can’t come soon enough. Ask Ruthann Seegers, a neighbor from the same block.

Seegers was walking with her grandson Liam, 2, through the neighborhood Monday morning in hopes both could see Maldonado force the building’s collapse with the backhoe.

She said it was exciting to watch the “eyesore” that she had hoped would come down for 10 years finally get demolished.

“It’s a nice piece of property,” Seegers said. “I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like.”

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