In a housing market where buyers are snatching up homes hours after they hit the market, Barb Kochlin is struggling to give away a Victorian-era house in downtown Jordan.
“Unfortunately it was allowed to be moved there in the first place, way before my time, and now we have to try to figure it out,” Kochlin said.
Sell it, move it, burn it, demolish it — the Jordan City Council doesn’t really have a preference, but says something must be done with vacant house that sits near the old brewery building on Broadway Street. Kochlin said she’s been trying to sell the house for an ultra-low price and have it moved off the property. Earlier this month, she decided she’d even give it away.
“I put a big sign on it that said ‘free must move,’” Kochlin said. “I put it on Craigslist, I’ve talked to Scott County Historical Society ... I’m trying really hard to find a good home for it because I think it’s a beautiful, neat, old Victorian house.”
The problem, Kochlin said, is the cost of moving the two-story structure.
“I’ve had people say ‘We’re getting bids, we’re getting bids’ and then they just don’t contact me back, so I’m assuming when they did their research it became too expensive for them to move it,” she said.
Kochlin inherited the house when she bought the land from her grandmother, former Jordan Mayor Gail Anderson, who originally moved the house from the corner of Broadway and Second Streets to its “temporary” location in 2002. Kochlin said she isn’t sure what her late grandmother’s plans were for the house, but knows she invested around $40,000 for improvements to the interior.
Kochlin said she would’ve used that money for more fundamental improvements, like connecting the house to city water and sewer service or building a proper foundation (the house sits atop cinder blocks on the old bottling house basement).
After Anderson died, Kochlin unearthed concept drawings for a bed-and-breakfast drafted by Kevin Breeggemann, who refurbished the Nicolin Mansion Bed & Breakfast and the brewery with Anderson.
Kochlin had plans to turn the house into a multi-family residence, but after extensive work with city planners, she realized the idea was cost-prohibitive, as it involved building off-street parking and direct access to Broadway Street. Kochlin also asked the city to consider rezoning the parcel for a single-family home, but the city denied that request because it conflicts with the 2040 comprehensive plan.
Out of ideas, Kochlin put the house on the market last year, then repeatedly lowered the price before advertising it as free. After receiving countless contacts from non-serious buyers, Kochlin relisted the house at a nominal cost. Since then, she says the house has received interest, but would-be buyers are dissuaded by moving costs.
On April 15, the city council requested an update on the property. Kochlin said she prefers to sell the house, but will have it demolished or burned down if necessary. She floated the idea of letting the Jordan Fire Department use the house for a controlled training burn, but councilman and firefighter Jeremy Goebel said the house is an unlikely candidate due to potential stability issues.
The council ultimately voted to give Kochlin three more months to sell or move the house before she is forced to begin pursuing demolition options. In recent months she obtained two bids for demolition; the lowest was $14,000.
Kochlin was told that price could go up if asbestos is found in the house. Asbestos testing will cost her at least $500 and could balloon to $2,000 if the hazardous mineral is found. Kochlin has tried to give the house away to organizations and businesses, including Habitat for Humanity and moving companies, but none were interested.
Now, with only three months left to move the house, Kochlin is still holding out hope for an interested buyer.
“I don’t want to see it be demolished or burned down, but I’ve run out of ideas to make it work,” she said. “I would love for it to have a good home on a different plot of land. I hate seeing old buildings torn down because once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”