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Home teetering on Lake Michigan bluff to be razed
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Home teetering on Lake Michigan bluff to be razed

From the Top 10 stories of October 2019 series

Almost as if someone pulled the final Jenga piece, a Somers home teetering on the Lake Michigan shoreline is coming down.

Ready or not.

The bank-owned property, located at 609 17th St., is scheduled to be razed on Friday by a demolition company hired by mortgage lender Fannie Mae, according to Somers Assistant Administrator Jason Peters.

The demolition offers closure to the home’s 1½-year, uphill battle with erosion.

An excessive amount of recent rain and near-record water levels created additional urgency to an already pressing issue. Last week, a portion of the basement slid off the side of a bluff.

“I don’t think it would’ve made it much longer,” Peters said. “Part of the basement fell on the same day the demolition company was here to talk to us.”

The Somers Village Board issued a raze order on the home in April. However, Somers officials refused to take additional responsibility for the property due to liability risk, according to Village President George Stoner.

A demolition company recently reinforced the home with support cables and placed buoys in the lake to contain debris.

The estimated $50,000 project involves putting a barge in the water and a crane on land. The house will be removed, and the property will be filled with clay.

“Normally, razing a house isn’t that difficult,” Peters said. “In this case, it is. They don’t want the foundation to fall or the house itself to fall.

“The equipment is also very heavy. One of the reasons they’ve waited to do this is because they needed another piece of equipment brought here from Indiana.”

The three-bedroom home was previously owned by Tom and Marge Lindgren. The house had a beautiful backyard with a large maple tree, picnic table and porch, creating a front-row seat to Lake Michigan’s breathtaking sunrises and natural beauty.

In spring 2018, the Lindgrens were in their kitchen during a powerful storm when they heard a loud crash. It was their back porch and its concrete foundation, which crashed 30 feet off of the top of a cliff, leaving the home’s foundation exposed.

The Lindgrens packed their bags, boarded up the house and moved in with a family member.

The house was Tom Lindgren’s childhood home. He purchased it from his father and lived there with his wife for more than 15 years.

The Lindgrens spent thousands on renovations over the past several years, including adding a new roof, furnace, water heater and 2½-car garage.

The couple applied for a low-income, government loan and received an estimate of $300,000 to construct a seawall and prevent further erosion. Once the estimate arrived, the Lindgrens didn’t even consider it.

“They were in a bad place,” Peters said. “As much as they wanted to save their home, it didn’t make financial sense to keep paying the mortgage.”

Peters said he’s uncertain if the razed property will hold much value.

“Carthage owns some land around there,” Peters said. “Maybe they would be interested in it. Other than that, it will probably just sit vacant.”


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