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Derelict property that became symbol of Schenectady blight is demolished

Derelict property that became symbol of Schenectady blight is demolished

Neighbors rejoice Francis Avenue house is gone
Derelict property that became symbol of Schenectady blight is demolished
The house at 792 Francis Ave. in Schenectady was demolished on Tuesday afternoon.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY — The derelict city-owned property in Mont Pleasant that became a symbol for urban decay has been torn down. 

Contractors began dismantling the structure at 792 Francis Ave. on Tuesday. By noon, an excavator ripped through the back of the house, exposing a fire-singed interior and guts packed with moldering cardboard boxes and filthy insulation. 

And by late afternoon all that remained was a pile of rubble. 

“I’m so happy, I’m so relieved,” said Zorida Hatideen, who lives next door.

Neighbors have long complained about the property, which served as an overgrown dumping ground, collecting shopping carts, appliances and even a sofa. They had implored city officials to expedite the demolition process.

This spring, the structure served as the poster child for poorly-maintained, city-owned properties, and became barely invisible from the street as vegetation shrouded the structure. 

Officials said there are no minimum maintenance standards once the city takes ownership of a structure for failure to pay back taxes. The city owns hundreds of derelict properties and officials say the city does its best to manage them.

“I feel like I have a house again,” Hatideen said. “My grandkids can play now.” 

She said she aims to purchase the empty lot from the city. 

The structure was among the 34 parcels that have been included on a list of properties city officials and the Capital Region Land Bank had evaluated as to whether they should be saved or demolished.

Earlier this month, the Land Bank issued a request for bids to demolish 11 of the properties. Bids were due Tuesday. 

The now-demolished Francis Avenue structure isn’t the only property giving residents headaches.

Another is 1023 Bridge St., which is located behind Hatideen’s home. 

The two blighted homes shared a backyard, which grew so unwieldy at one point a tree fell on Hatideen’s garage.

City officials have said they aim put out demolition bids for that structure by late summer.

Passerby Michael Hall, 38, spent part of his childhood on Strong Street and recalled being babysat at 792 Francis Ave. He recalled a well-maintained home with a garden. 

He now lives downtown and he said he avoids his old neighborhood.

“Schenectady has a lot of vacant homes that need to be taken care of,” Hall said. “Mount Pleasant used to be so nice.”

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