Neighbors say abandoned house in Spenard is a safety concern
Pesky neighbors are the least of Amber Glasser’s problems.
The property next to hers in Spenard has sat abandoned for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s been empty.
“Lots of homeless camps, lots of drug use, lots of stolen vehicles being dropped off,” she listed as concerns, adding that she’s had to call the police more than a handful of times. “Stolen items, people running through our backyard, lot of police through the neighborhood. Just always an incident.”
A brown home sits boarded up at the property near 36th Avenue and Lois Drive. Glasser says she’s grown tired of her family not feeling safe, especially after a few close calls.
“I was walking back here with my daughter, and we get to kind of the wooded area and we notice that the bottom of the garage door is up,” she recalled. “And then you see four feet and people just standing there, and it was really scary. You don’t know if they have guns, you don’t know if they’re on drugs, you don’t know what they’re going to do.”
Glasser and her neighbors want to see the house demolished. And so does the man who owns it, Richard Michael.
“We want to bulldoze it and get rid of it as fast as they do,” said Michael. “All this is supposed to come down, but it costs money to tear things down without an approved plan.”
Michael says he purchased the property in 2014 with plans to develop up to two dozen housing units on the land. But he ran into problems with Title 21, code from the municipality that regulates land use and zoning.
“We started the project thinking we’d get 16 to 24 units,” he explained. “Now we’re all the way down to eight [units]. And that doesn’t do a whole lot for affordable housing in Anchorage.”
He and the planned developer, Spinell Homes, have been navigating what Michael calls the “hurdles” and “red tape” of Title 21 for years now, including trying to get around regulations that mandate them to build a sidewalk in front of the new property once it’s built.
“Basically, a sidewalk to nowhere,” Michael said, adding that the surrounding homes don’t have them, and it would cost tens of thousands more to pave one. “You know, to start a sidewalk here and end it at the railroad tracks.”
Glasser and her neighbors are behind the demolition and development of the property, along with the Spenard Community Council, who met with Spinell Homes at its most recent meeting.
If the property ever does see a bulldozer, Glasser says she hopes the illegal activity gets tossed out with the problem property next door.
“So that we can kind of move forward and not have a no man’s land where people feel they can kind of do whatever they want,” said Glasser. “Because our kids don’t deserve that, the kids in the neighborhood.”
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