Can North Avenue 'Tree House' be Saved? New Owner Says He Just Needs Time

The home now has a tree growing out of the roof but a Chesterfield Township man says he can salvage the building on North Avenue set to be demolished.

A dilapidated home on North Avenue has been given a month-long reprieve from the wrecking ball to give its new owner time to salvage what he can of the crumbling structure – a building that has been exposed to the elements so long there is now a tree growing out of the roof.

Chesterfield Township resident Steven Furtaw says he can give the decaying “tree house” at 45301 North Ave. new life, but Macomb Township board members fear the structure may be too far gone.

Scheduled for demolition on Sept. 9, the board agreed Aug. 22 to revise the order and give Furtaw until Sept. 30 to make the building as safe as he can. If at that time the board feels the structure cannot be saved, the home will be demolished.

“I’m just asking for the opportunity to bring the house back to life,” Furtaw told the board. 

Although Furtaw had not put his signature on the closing papers at the time of the Aug. 22 meeting, he told the board he was fully prepared to take on the project’s risks, one of which is the suit calling for the building’s demolition.

Due to the dilapidated nature of the property, which includes the house and a back building, and because it violated the township’s property maintenance code and dangerous building ordinance, township attorney Lawrence Dloski said the township was able to obtain a demolition order on July 9. Per this order, the house and back building were to be demolished and all the debris removed within 60 days, or the township would complete the project and attach the cost to the tax rolls in the form of a lien on the property.

Furtaw said he plans to immediately tear the back building down and gut the home, salvaging only the frame. He firmly believes the structure can be saved. But Macomb Township Building Official Daniel Fairless isn’t so sure.

“We’ve been in the house enough to know it’s in dangerous enough shape we can’t go through the whole thing, it’s just too unsafe,” he said. “Observing the exterior and what we can get in to see, it is in very bad shape. To secure the site, that can be done relatively quickly, but a boarded up house is still a blighting impact on the neighborhood. We’re concerned about a timely completion time to get this renovated.”

Trustee Dino Bucci instructed Furtaw to, “Do everything in your power to make that house as safe as possible” by the Sept. 30 deadline.

Should this home get a second chance?

Jenny Whalen (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM
I think this home does deserve a second chance, but the safety issue needs to be taken care of asap. Judging from outward appearance, there is nothing stopping someone (kids!) from wandering in and falling through a floor or something equally as dangerous.


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