By Laurie Snell
On the corner of Water Street and Denver Road is a quarter-acre property hidden behind an overgrown cedar grove.
After sitting vacant for a few years, the lot went up for auction on Thursday, selling for $223,500.
Bidders couldn’t go inside the neglected house, which was built in 1890, because it’s boarded up and is seemingly unsafe to live in as is.
Bidders, however, were allowed to wander around the lot that extends 208 feet on Water Street and another 188 feet on Denver Road.
The property line runs diagonally and has two driveways on Water Street.
Before the sale, auctioneer Brian Kurtz said that Habitat for Humanity purchased the land a few years ago, but was unsuccessful with its plan to build six or seven housing units on the property.
“The value is in the land itself, not the house … In the city, you don’t get settings like this anymore, there’s just none around. These kind of lots are old and established in a good area … but it does have some limitations and restrictions,” Kurtz said at the auction.
The exterior of the house, although it’s mostly boarded up, has broken windows and a crumbly-looking foundation and bricks that were far more pleasant to look at than the inside. Glass is shattered all over the uneven floors inside, and the wallpaper serves more as a rug than décor. There are also inexplicable holes in the walls upstairs.
Looking at the brown ceilings, heavy water damage and smell of the building makes it pretty clear this will have to be torn down rather than fixed up.
“It’s pretty bad – it’s not in good condition,” City of Guelph zoning inspector Patrick Sheehy said. He added that there are also tree bylaws in effect that would impact building permits for any expansion.
“The zoning is on the Urban Reserve, which would permit only what exists. If they want to tear it down, you have to build the exact same structure. That’s all you’d get,” Sheehy said, adding that you’d have to get new permissions to go beyond that footprint of the house.
But none of that stopped the winning bidder, who at this point wishes to remain nameless. Of the 30 or so attendees, there were only five active bidders, who opened with an offer of $100,000.
After scoring the winning bid, the woman explained that this was her first time seeing the property and she just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
She wasn’t sure what she will do with the property yet.
The winning bidder had to put $20,000 down the day of the auction and must pay the remainder within 30 days.