The Sandy Springs City Council Oct. 6 approved the demolition of 11 houses it previously bought for a proposed Hammond Drive widening project. Officials said the houses are in too bad a shape for use in a city program that offers affordable housing to public safety employees.

Complete Demolition Services Inc. will be paid $185,650 to demolish the houses, grade the properties, and put seed and straw down.

This Hammond Drive widening concept map. (Special)

The houses include: 6038 Harleston Road; 6017 Kayron Drive; 6020 Glenridge Drive; and 360, 390, 446, 524, 600, 630, 640, 660 Hammond Drive.

Assistant City Manager David Wells said that each house was inspected for a cost analysis of renovations. His analysis was based in part on the $15,000-per-house spending limit City Council imposed in the program.

The proposed 1.1-mile widening of Hammond between Barfield and Roswell roads, estimated to cost $60 million to $63 million, is in a 12- to 18-month design phase after approval by City Council on June 16. Of that amount, $45 million in funding still is needed. Approximately $9 million already has been spent on 26 houses, mostly on property that owners sought to sell. Police officers currently live in some of the houses in a city pilot program for affordable housing.

Up to 80 properties could be impacted by the widening project, including commercial businesses near its intersection with Roswell Road. The city owns 28 of those properties.

Four properties along the Hammond Drive widening project corridor owned by the city currently house officers, he said.

A fifth property, 6017 Kayron Drive, had once been occupied by a public safety officer. But sinkholes developed on the property making it unsafe for dwelling and the officer had to move out.

“It pains me to tear a house down, but I’d rather do that than create a public safety hazard,” Councilmember Chris Burnett said.

Asked by Councilmember Tibby DeJulio whether more houses could be saved if the renovation spending limit were increased, Well said yes. But the council did not authorize such a change. Burnett said if the city could get 10 years of housing use by officers by spending an additional $5,000 per house, it would be a good investment, but it wouldn’t make sense if the road project began in two or three years.

Wells said a lot of the homes have mold issues and their appliances are outdated. “A lot of them were rented by rooms. They are in really, really bad condition,” he said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said the city anticipates a vote in the next 12 to 15 months on a new transportation special local option sales tax that would include the Hammond Drive widening project. Construction would begin earlier than some of the council members had suggested.

“I don’t think you are talking a decade, but I think you are talking five years,” he said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.