Galesburg proposes plans to fill vacant lots

GALESBURG, Illinois - Galesburg is home to around 400 vacant homes.  The city is now working on an ambitious 15-year plan to stabilize these neighborhoods.

"We want to stop the cycle of demolition," says Todd Thompson, City Manager.

About 40% of homes in Galesburg are more than 100 years old.  But instead of tearing down the vacant ones at a cost of up to $20,000, a new plan proposes to use grant money to restore them.

"Some are vacant because they are for sale or for rent," says Thompson, "Others are what people would consider abandoned homes and those are a concern for our community."

The city also has many vacant lots where the grant money could be used to build brand new homes.

"When you build a new home in an older area it can help the surrounding properties improve as well," says Thompson.

The process is called "infill housing" and could combat increasing vacancy rates by making neighborhoods more stable.

Joshua Moore has lived in Galesburg all his life and his block is dotted with vacant homes and lots.

"It's a good plan in theory and on paper," says Moore, "But building materials are so expensive that no one will want to come and build a house in a neighborhood like this and expect to get their money back."

He thinks there's better way to spend grant money.

"What I think would be good is take some empty lots and build some parks for these kids that are running up and down these streets wreaking havoc in the neighborhood," suggests Moore.

The comprehensive 2033 plan is divided into six main topics including transportation and parks and recreation.