Land bank tears down blighted structures, aims to bring economic development

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WOWK) — The Lawrence County Land Bank has been tearing down dilapidated structures for the last two years and this week, they hit a milestone by tearing down its 200th structure.

One of the land bank’s goal is better housing and economic growth for the area.

Officials say no other counties of Lawrence County’s size have been able to do as many demolitions in such a short time. The land bank has averaged close to 10 demolitions per month over the last two years.

Their latest demolition was Shenanigans, a once thriving bar and nightclub in Ironton.

“[It was] a long-standing facility,” said Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith. “A lot of people have been [there and] a lot of people have really taken to Shenanigans. It’s really been an iconic piece of Ironton.”

But while Shenanigans’ demolition was bitter-sweet for the community, it’s also paving the way for opportunity into Ironton and Lawrence County.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to reestablish a commercial business [where Shenanigans stood] and create a few jobs,” said Stephen Burcham, Chairman for the Lawrence County Land Bank.

Mayor Keith shares the forward-looking sentiment from Burcham.

“We’re putting in a lot of focus on cleaning up blighted structures,” said Keith. “We know that that’s a huge element with economic development.”

The land bank is also making properties available for developers to create housing in Ironton and across the county.

“About three blocks away from [Shenanigans], there’s a nice duplex that’s been built by a developer,” said Burcham. “It has gone from a vacant piece of land, to a place where two families are living.”

According to Burcham, 200 homes could be built in Lawrence County

 “What used to be an old abandoned house, hopefully will be a new house with a new family and children that will be growing up and making memories there,” he said.

Burcham tells 13 News the money to tear down blighted properties comes from the US Treasury Department.

Burcham says the land bank plans to tear down 50 more structures this year, but that they have identified more than 200 properties for demolition around the county.

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