SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -The city of Savannah demolished the first home obtained through eminent domain after working with the state legislature to change the law in 2017.
“Let’s call this what it is - revitalizing our communities in Savannah,” said Savannah Mayor, Eddie DeLoach.
DeLoach took the first crack at demolishing 226 Cumming St. on Tuesday morning, sitting in the driver's seat of the excavator.
The property has been blighted and abandoned since 2004. The state law Mayor DeLoach and city leaders helped change allows cities to take over blighted properties after paying what they're worth if approved by Superior Court. Properties must be uninhabitable, unsafe and abandoned, have failed to comply with municipal or county maintenance codes for at least one year, and contribute to crime in the immediate area for the city to take a property this way.
Tuesday, citizens in West Savannah saw what that law can do for their community.
“Thank you for your labor to continue to move us from blight to bright,” said Marsha Buford, President-elect of the West Savannah Community Organization.
The once dilapidated and uninhabited home will now be rebuilt, so low-income, first-time home-buyers can purchase a property of their own.
"We begin the start of the new," Buford said. "New affordable housing that will revitalize an area, and even someone else's dreams. We're excited in West Savannah to see the beginning of what will not only revitalize our neighborhood but will also revitalize someone else's life."
In all, the city's Housing and Neighborhood Services Department plans to build eight single-family homes on Cumming Street.
City leaders say these communities were once strong neighborhoods, and removing these kinds of buildings gives them a chance to be that way again.
“Every citizen in our community deserves the right to live in a community that’s free from blight,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Bell.
The city plans to demolish six more homes on Cumming Street after Superior Court hearings in June. Of the 37 properties on Cumming Street, the city says 21 are abandoned or blighted.