1004 Johnson Ave.
This week’s eyesore is a juicy one: It’s the scene of an active police investigation.
This bright red house with a gambrel roof on the north side was reportedly declared a “total loss” by the Lansing Fire Department after it was destroyed in a blaze March 4. Boards still cover the entirety of the porch. Bricks are charred along the roofline. Sunlight shines through cracks in the walls and the shattered upper-floor window. The vacant home seems like it could collapse at any time.
City officials think so too. They red-tagged the home and declared it unsafe on the same day.
Elissa Cheeks and her 3-year-old daughter lost all of their belongings in the blaze, a teary-eyed Cheeks told WILX in front of the charred remains of her former homestead in March. Cheeks also told reporters on scene that her old friends were responsible for burning it down.
The property owner, Dennis Moore, told City Pulse this week that he also believes a group of people intentionally started the fire. He said that he’s working with his insurance company to help cover the repairs, as well as local cops to help track down the alleged culprits.
So far, he’s not having much luck.
“I couldn’t evict the person who was living there illegally and the house was arsoned,” Moore said. “The neighbors even have video of it, but nobody will do anything about it. The cops told me it wouldn’t be good for race relations to prosecute the people who did it. Now the city just keeps charging me fees, so I don’t care what happens to the place. The city can kiss my ass.”
A spokesman for the Police Department was only able to confirm the address to be the site of an “open arson investigation,” but he couldn’t provide any details about the status of the probe. So far, the investigation has dragged on without an arrest for more than six months. Those with any information about the alleged crime are still encouraged to call the cops at (517) 483-4600.
Meanwhile, the city has been billing Moore about $150 per month through its Neighborhood Enhancement Action Team, which monitors unsafe, substandard and vacant properties across Lansing and issues recurring fines to their owners who fail to make timely repairs. Under state law, the home must be red-tagged for 180 days before the city can begin the process of ordering a demolition. That deadline passed on Aug. 31. So, sit tight neighbors. The end is near.