HAVERHILL — The owner of two homes on a list of vacant and dilapidated buildings to be demolished by the city will make a last-ditch attempt to save them from the wrecking ball tonight.
In a letter to the City Council, Kevin McCarthy said he owns both homes at 18 Warren St. and 2 Tyler Ave. and has “qualified buyers” for each one. He said he intends to bring the prospective buyers to tonight’s meeting and will ask the council to remove or delay its demolition order for the buildings.
The prospective buyers will be there to “answer any questions or concerns ... as to their plans for the properties,” McCarthy said. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in City Hall.
In December, the council voted to demolish homes at 18 Warren St., 2 Tyler Ave., 5 Cypress St., 36 School St. and 16 Margerie St. Mayor James Fiorentini proposed the demolitions, saying the homes are the worst abandoned buildings in Haverhill and are hurting property values in neighborhoods.
Last month, councilors agreed to postpone action on the School Street home until April 29, after the owner’s lawyer told them he acquired a signed agreement to sell the property to a local contractor. A letter from attorney James Cleary III said the owner of the School Street home, Brian Langlois, is scheduled to finalize the sale of the property April 28.
On Monday, David Van Dam, the mayor’s aide, said the city has not yet begun soliciting proposals to raze any of the homes, but that he expects the bidding process for those jobs to begin soon.
Van Dam said the city has not seen any proof that the Warren Street or Tyler Avenue homes have been sold or about to be sold.
“If he (McCarthy) has a signed agreement to sell, I’m sure he’ll show it to the council Tuesday and they will consider taking the buildings off the demolition list,” Van Dam said. “But until then, we’re going forward (with the demolition process).”
Van Dam stressed it would take at least a month to complete the bidding process for any of the demolition jobs and at least another month after the job is awarded before any buildings would be razed.
At a Dec. 10 council meeting, city Building Inspector Richard Osborne said both the Warren Street and Tyler Avenue homes have been abandoned and open to intrusion for more than a year, and that both are fire hazards and infested with rodents. He said the Tyler Avenue home has a collapsed ceiling and leaky roof.
At that meeting, McCarthy said both properties have been held up in litigation and that, until recently, he had been prohibited from entering the buildings to secure and maintain them. But, as a result of the city’s notice that it planned to demolish the buildings, a court recently gave the company permission to enter the homes for the purpose of boarding them up, McCarthy said. He asked the council to delay its decision until February to give his company time to repair the homes and try to sell them.
“I am here tonight to say they are not abandoned and we are not walking away from these buildings,” McCarthy told the council on Dec. 10.
Osborne told councilors he had no sympathy for McCarthy. He said he cited McCarthy’s company for problems with the buildings three or four times in the last year, but that no one bothered to respond.
“On June 6, 2012, we ordered them to board the building, and it’s still open to intrusion,” Osborne said of the Tyler Avenue home.
The council voted 8-0 to approve the mayor’s request to knock down both buildings.
In order to get a property removed from the demolition list, the owner must show the city a detailed rehabilitation plan and prove that it has the money to do the work, Osborne said.
If the city goes ahead and demolishes any of the buildings, it would pay to demolish them and then attach a lien on the properties to recoup the cost, Osborne said. The city would get the money back when the property is eventually sold or the city can go to court to seize the property and sell it, he said.