LIMA — Walking through the house at 693 W. Lane Ave., one can’t help but think “what happened here?”
In one small bedroom, graffiti covers the walls. Signatures by “Lindsay,” “Bob,” “Yung” and “Pork Bizzle” flank a window covered by a blanket depicting Disney princesses. The whole setup gives an eerie pink hue to the abandoned room and the mattress sitting within.
The other bedrooms aren’t much better. Across the hall, decorations of little girls are stuck onto filthy walls. Half-broken and exposed studs stand by another dirty mattress in a third bedroom, and in the center of the main living room connected to the kitchen, an Ab Lounge is set up — its bright blue cover conspicuously clean compared to the rest of the house.
Apollo Career Center Instructor Rodney Wise has plans for the 57-year-old bi-level structure. The north side property has been placed under his care, and his first task is to fix the half-broken steps leading into the dark, damp unfinished basement. If Apollo students are to gut and renovate the house, which is just more than 1,000 square feet, he’s going to have to make sure they can move around in a safe environment.
“I’m really excited for this learning experience,” Wise said. “We’re anxious to get started.”
Apollo students will be able to earn hands-on experience with flipping dilapidated residences such as 693 W. Lane Ave. thanks to efforts by the Allen County Land Bank and the Apollo Career Center working together. The collaboration is a first for the two organizations.
Lima has hundreds of both residential and commercial properties sitting empty throughout the city.
The Allen County Land Bank owns 250 of them, but it has been making headway in eliminating the eyesores.
A total of 140 of the 250 have been torn down in the last year, and the remaining will most likely see a similar fate as the three-year $4.5 million grant received in January 2017 that finances the Land Bank plays out.
Many of these properties have been foreclosed on by the bank and have gone to waste as property owners refuse to maintain or pay taxes on the properties. The house at 693 W. Lane Ave. is one such example, but Wise said it’s structurally sound and relatively square with a solid roof line. It’s perfect for up-and-coming apprentices.
He’ll be working with morning and afternoon classes/crews throughout the next year as they bring the house up to par — including skills related to the construction permit process and how to start utility services as well as related career soft skills, such as interpersonal communication and time management.
Hunter Coon, a 17 year old from Wapakoneta, is looking forward to working with the electricity, something Wise pushes his students to take initiative on.
“I encourage them to find their niche and figure out what they can do,” Wise said.
Coon’s overall goal for this project, he said, is to not burn the house down with a crisscrossed wire. And eventually, he wants to use his construction skills for his own home.
“I don’t want to hire somebody else to fix my own house,” he said.
Hopefully, it won’t need as much work as 693 W. Lane Ave., but if it does, he’ll have firsthand experience.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.