The TROUBLE with Hallie.

It started back at the end of March when we were finishing up Dresden. We stopped in to check on Hallie and drop off supplies. While we had been away 2 things happened. The first one was that the house that sat directly behind Hallie, covered in graffiti, peeling paint and a sagging porch had finally been demolished. The 2nd was that Hallie’s basement was now flooded.

Coincidence?

We had been notified by our contact at the Columbus Landbank, that if we didn’t purchase the other property, that this was the fate that would befall it. Earlier on though, we had decided that we’d stick with sturdier structures like brick, plus we weren’t in the financial position to take on another rehab. We even entertained the idea of purchasing the land that would connect right to Hallie’s backyard after the demolition. Then we came to our senses and realized we’d just pay more on taxes, have more grass to mow each week and in reality it would only benefit our potential renters. Which after considering putting up a fence in the backyard to prevent miscreants from walking through and dumping trash, it wasn’t an additional expense that we relished.

Hallie flooded basement copy (Shown here the water covering the bottom step.)

Obviously, this was NOT something that we wanted. We knew the drains on our end were all cleaned out. Joel had just snaked everything while working on the plumbing prior to the misadventures of Dresden. The correlation of the situation being tied to the other properties demolition seemed pretty clear. But Easter was upon us and as was our trip, so we took this time to clear our heads, hoping the situation would magically resolve itself.

It didn’t.

It took a months worth of calls to finally get a response back. The Head of Demo seemed concerned, took the info from Joel and said he’d call back. Instead, though, the Head of the Columbus Landback (the organization we purchased Hallie from) contacted us, denying any wrong-doing. He told Joel that our property/pipes were old, that we should contact our insurance company and that IF we could prove that it WAS INDEED THEIR FAULT, that maybe they could just give us the land as payment. Sounds a little shady doesn’t it? Why would that last bit even be offered up?

It was on us to prove that it was the City’s wrongdoing. Over the course of the last 4 1/2 months, we’ve pumped the basement of 1 1/2 feet of water 5 TIMES. It’s a large basement. It takes half a day EACH TIME. We were hoping the first time, that we could just pump it and be done. By the 3rd round, leaks were springing up all over the basement from the intense pressure. (I have a video, it’s disheartening and won’t load.) Even with the water gone, it was still being forced to find it’s way in. After the water has emptied, Joel has attempted to snake the drains an additional 2 more times hoping that there was just debris in the pipes. He reworked the the downspouts and drainage around the duplex in hopes it would help. When nothing worked, we finally had a company come out to verify the problem and provide a quote. $8,000 to rip it all up and repair the damage. When Joel presented the findings to the Landbank, at first the guy seemed forthright. He stated this incident had happened one other time. It was a process, it would have to go through City Council to get approved, but it would be taken care of.

Then he totally back-pedaled.

The Head of the Landbank called back. Now one quote wasn’t good enough, they wanted at least 2. In addition, he said we’d have to cover the expense upfront AND THEN get reimbursed by the City. Then there was also something about an easement and how the demolished property would be useless to them if they repaired our pipes and they couldn’t have that. (Which is really random since those pipes were connected to ours all along and worked fine previously.) It became astoundingly clear why more people didn’t purchase these properties. Instead of being our allies, the very folks that we thought we were all working together with to make Columbus better, in reality were more than willing to shut us down and not take any sort of responsibility for their ignorance.

Aside from dealing with the basement and mowing/weeding, we stopped working on improving the property. There’s no point unless this situation can be remedied. A considerable amount of new hardwood flooring was purchased previously and just sits, waiting to be laid. If nothing changes, we are faced with the decision of possibly handing back the property that we already sunk thousands into. All the nights after work, weeks, months we poured ourselves into, would be a complete waste.

So thoughts? Suggestions? At this point, I’m very disenchanted. I’m tired, we both are. The last thing I want to be doing is dragging a newborn to a rehab site because people cannot be responsible to do their jobs correctly. By now, it was suppose to be completed, rented and providing us with an additional source of income and the neighborhood with one more residence that didn’t look like an abandoned dump.

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