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City, neighbors relieved as renovations begin at vacant home near 53rd and Blondo

Posted at 1:01 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 14:01:04-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Homeowners around the vacant home near 53rd and Blondo Streets say a landlord left this property essentially untouched for years. It mostly housed squatters and animals. A recent demolition notice got the ball rolling to finally make improvements.

The empty house at North 53rd Street has frustrated Omaha City Councilmember Pete Festersen.

"[It was] a huge concern for the neighborhood both in terms of property values and even public safety," Councilmember Festersen said. "It's something we're very relieved to see finally get resolved in a positive way that I think will have a great conclusion for everyone."

Neighbors complained to the city for years about the possibility of decreasing property values. Joel Fischer lives nextdoor and says that sometimes worried his family.

"It has a bit because of people breaking in," Fischer said. "You wouldn't want to have a fire or anything."

After the city posted a recent demolition notice, the owner put the property up for sale. Mike Wiggins purchased it.

Wiggins took us inside the home he bought to fix and sell. He says he might move in himself, but is focused on cleaning out the trash and junk left behind.

By Tuesday, Wiggins has shoveled through debris in the basement already filling up one dumpster. Some records were left behind by former owners.

The structure is fair, but not much inside can be saved. Wiggins told us why he's tackling such a big project.

"I love seeing the end result," Wiggins said. "I don't understand why anyone would let this go to this magnitude."

Wiggins is not sure when the work will be finished. Councilmember Festersen expects to meet with him later this week.