2024 Aetna Demolition

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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What is the City of Gary Department of Redevelopment?

The City of Gary Department of Redevelopment is a public body that supports innovative solutions for rebuilding and strengthening communities in Gary, Indiana. The department works to make Gary safe, livable, and clean for its residents by encouraging progressive land use decisions, improving city processes, and spearheading development plans. The department also collaborates with partners to study, analyze and implement solutions to improve the city’s physical environment.

What is blight?

Blight refers to deteriorated, abandoned, or neglected properties that negatively impact the surrounding community. These properties may be vacant, unsafe, or aesthetically unappealing.

Why is the Department of Redevelopment demolishing these properties in Aetna?

Demolishing blighted and/or dangerous properties will immediately improve the quality of life for Aenta residents. Demolition helps eliminate eyesores, reduce safety hazards, and create space for new development.

Why concentrate in one neighborhood?

The Melton administration plans to establish various neighborhood stabilization projects across the city, with a focus on areas that have high concentrations of blight. The Department of Redevelopment is piloting this approach in the Aetna neighborhood. By focusing efforts in one neighborhood at a time, the City of Gary can demonstrate a significant impact in one area and begin the process of revitalization and reinvestment.

How many Aetna properties will be affected by the demolition?

To date, 35 properties have been approved for demolition. In the future, more properties in Aetna may be identified. The Department of Redevelopment is committed to ensuring that all property owners and residents are treated fairly during the process.

How did the City of Gary determine which properties would be demolished?

The Department of Redevelopment initially identified 102 properties as blighted within the Aetna neighborhood. These properties were deteriorated, abandoned, or unsafe, negatively impacting the community. In accordance with Indiana’s Unsafe Building Law (IC 36-7-9), property owners were invited to hearings, which were conducted to assess the safety and condition of these properties. The goal was to determine which structures posed risks to the neighborhood.


Over 40 property owners attended the hearings and committed to stabilize or renovate the buildings they own. 35 properties were ordered to be demolished and removed now.  The remaining properties are still in the assessment stage.

Who is doing the demolitions?

Rieth-Riley Construction, Hasse Construction, C. Lee Construction, Actin INC, R & D Construction, Dyer Construction, Superior Construction, and the Lake County Highway Department have all generously donated their time, expertise and equipment to this effort and will start the demolition of the first set of 35 properties on Monday, February 26, 2024.

What is the timeline for the project? How will the demolition process work?

The demolition of the first 35 properties is estimated to take approximately one week.  Each volunteer contractor company has been assigned a list of homes to demolish. Allowing each company to use its own volunteer crew made the logistics of the demolition process more efficient for all parties donating their time and resources.

How were property owners informed about the demolition?    

First, assessments were performed for all properties. Notifications of demolition orders were delivered via registered mail and published in local newspapers. Notices contained information on the observed unsafe conditions and required actions. All owners were given the opportunity to attend a hearing in person or with legal representation. The hearings determined the final necessary actions and in some cases owners were given additional periods of time to allow for abatement compliance.

What happens to the debris and materials after demolition?

Debris will be removed and disposed of in appropriate waste sites.

How will hazardous materials such as asbestos or mold be managed?

Prior to demolition each home is assessed for hazardous building materials. Each home is abated and properly disposed of by professional certified abatement professionals.

Will basements be removed or filled?

The homes that are planned for demolition are slab homes with no basement. The slabs will be removed, the lots will be leveled, and all utilities will be capped for future development.

Will utility lines remain?

All water, gas and electrical utilities will have been retired prior to demolition.

I’m concerned about dust residue from the demo. What do I need to know?

Properties will be watered during demolition to reduce the risk of dust carrying to other houses close to the demolished site.

I’m concerned about wildlife in the blighted properties. What do I need to know?

The Department of Redevelopment will be contracting with qualified pest control businesses to manage wildlife such as rats, mice, raccoons and skunks from blighted properties.

What is the plan for property maintenance post project?

The City of Gary will maintain all properties that are publicly owned. Private owners will be responsible for maintaining their own property and code encouragement measures will be employed frequently to ensure property owners are held responsible for property maintenance.  Private property owners are at risk of liens for the full cost of demolition and maintenance being placed on their property if the city is obligated to conduct/perform maintenance on their private property.


Who will own the lot after demolition?

Privately owned property lots will still belong to the private owner. Some of the properties are available and can be acquired in the Lake County Commissioner & Treasurer’s Tax Sale, while others may be acquired by the City of Gary over time in order to put them back into productive use. Stabilized market conditions may help encourage private owners to dispose of their properties at market rate.

What steps are being taken to prevent blight from returning?

Aetna property owners who have committed to stabilizing and renovating their structures will have a follow-up hearing within 30-60 days. Inspections by demolition inspectors will verify progress on their stated intentions. Failure to fulfill promises may result in property demolition.

Can someone purchase the lot after demolition?

There are over a dozen lots and vacant lots owned by the City of Gary that will be auctioned via an RFP process during the calendar year. Aetna and Gary residents will have first preference to purchase these properties.

Is there a plan for the other districts and neighborhoods?  

Yes, this plan will be replicated in concentrated neighborhoods throughout the city where both demolition and redevelopment opportunities exist. Neighborhood stabilization requires more than blight removal. Each area also requires additional redevelopment opportunities to anchor the neighborhood with jobs, access to transportation and greenspaces.

Why is the City of Gary focusing on Aetna now?  

Aetna is poised for redevelopment and investment. The neighborhood is nestled conveniently between two major highways (US 12 /20 and I-90) and offers easy access to the new Miller South Shore Line Commuter Station, which will provide faster rail travel to downtown Chicago to the West and South Bend to the east.  This community is also served by the Gary Public Transportation Corporation, which offers bus service to residents without vehicles.

Aetna also boasts access to many unique amenities for families. Within a 5 minute drive, residents have access to the Gary SouthShore RailCats stadium, Gary's minor league baseball franchise, the Shops on Lake Street in downtown Miller Beach, Indiana Dunes National Park, and recreational activities on Lake Michigan. Housing within the neighborhood is composed of primarily single-family ranch style slab homes ranging from 800-1200 square feet in area.

How can we stay informed about project updates?

Follow the City of Gary’s Office of the Mayor social media page and visit the Department of Redevelopment webpage at www.gary.gov for the latest, updated information.

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Crane Demo Department of Redevelopment