Minot residents taking care of blighted homes a decade later

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – The 2011 flood left many across the region without a home to live in.

When the waters receded, they left behind dozens of structures that were a shell of what they once were with locals giving them the nickname “zombie” homes.

But over the past decade, Minot residents have taken on the responsibility and are finding various ways to take care of these destroyed pieces of property.

One street that has been littered with blighted homes over the past decade is Eighth Street NW. But residents are continuing to take action even now to clean up reminders of the flood.

“We’ve done four houses on eighth street now, two down there, this one and one up the hill,” said homeowner and renovator Levi Kraft.

After renovating blighted homes on Eighth Street NW, The Kraft family is now renovating one into their future home.

“I had seen this house probably for the last six years just living in the area, and I just loved the look of it. I knew it was flooded. I knew it was just sitting here untouched and I just really wanted to get in there and rebuild it to be a family home and make it beautiful again,” said homeowner and renovator Lindsey Kraft.

Back in 2014, the Kraft’s home was also the meeting place for Minot residents who wanted to take action against the more than 300 blighted homes across the city.

While the city of Minot is working to acquire and demolish the few remaining zombie homes, they are also offering opportunities to residents to purchase the property through the Neighbor Next Door program.

“We just kind of restored it to just being more or less more lawn for us,” said Eighth Street resident Wolfgang Sinn.

After he and his family returned and renovated their home, Sinn purchased the blighted home next door from the county in 2016 and chose to demolish it.

“When we saw that it was going to be auctioned off, we were kind of tired of looking at just a zombie house. And we’re very glad to have been able to do that and hopefully kind of restore the neighborhood a little bit at that point,” said Sinn.

Since taking office in 2018, Mayor Shaun Sipma has worked with city staff and demolished more than 30 of the remaining homes. Now the project is in the final countdown until completion.

“It’s down to the last five or six homes stemming all the way back to 2011 and those typically fall into scenarios that the IRS is involved, or a property owner that just has their own reasons for hanging on to that property,” said Sipma.

Neighbors on Eighth Street NW said they are glad to have those painful reminders gone.

“Seeing that every day is not enjoyable, so when they’re gone or when they’re rebuilt and you see something new and useful, replace the bad feeling with a good feeling,” said Levi Kraft.

Across the city, vacant lots are the only reminders of zombie homes left. Sipma said the city will continue to work to acquire and demolish the remaining blighted homes into 2022.

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