The house at Harlem and Adams is about as decrepit as a house can be while still vertical. Actually, it may be tilting a little. The house just next door is in just about the same rough shape though it still has some sort of sheathing material on its outer walls.
We’ve been watching these highly visible wrecks for several years. As has Steve Glinke, Forest Park’s person in charge of derelict buildings and many other duties. And we understand that the arc of renovation is long and bends toward frustration and, with luck, foreclosure.
At a recent Forest Park Village Council meeting, Commissioner Ryan Nero raised the circumstances of 7201 Adams St., a wrecked two-flat at 839 S. Harlem Ave., and a long-vacant home at 7300 Harvard St. He described the three as “nuisance” and “degraded” properties and said that more positive news was forthcoming about the future of the structures.
Neighbors certainly deserve good news and drivers tooling down Harlem need a better message about Forest Park than these multiple wrecks.
Glinke said the two-flat will be demolished—unless we’d note, a stiff wind gets it first. It will need to be replaced with a building with some mixed-use or commercial purpose. The two homes on Adams will go shortly on the market and could either be demolished or … wait for it … renovated. Any renovation will need to renovate the half-assed renovations the current owner undertook. The small home on Harvard will be sold and hopefully brought back to life, and some degree of love, so that it fits in the community.
Glinke’s job is a thankless one, filled with issuing code violations that are ignored, watching banks slowly claw back properties from failed developers, and more recently, dealing with the ripples of COVID that touched normal living in every dimension. But he sticks to it and earns our commendation for the effort.
And he notes that in any coming property transaction, the village will be repaid for the grass-cutting, fines and property taxes it may be owed on these ramshackle hulks.
No one wants property rights undercut. But for every homeowner and landlord who abides by expectations, responds to notices about a fallen gutter or unpainted stairs, we also have a right to expect our neighborhood to look well-tended.
Until the wrecking balls arrive, or seriously funded renovations move forward, we’ll keep our eyes on these sad-sack properties on Harlem.