PEORIA — Instead of being razed or rehabilitated, vacant buildings in Peoria now can be placed in a form of suspended animation.

So-called "mothballing" involves specific procedures to secure empty, dormant structures indefinitely, according to regulations the City Council approved unanimously Tuesday night.

"This is a middle way for owners with properties not completely ready for revitalization but not ready for demolition," said Ross Black, the city's community development director. "… So when the market demands a building be returned to full use, it can be returned to full use."

Previous regulations stipulated buildings can be boarded for no longer than 180 days, with an equal amount of time allowed as an extension. Once that almost-one-year period ends, the building would have to be repaired or demolished.

The new regulations require mothballed buildings to be weatherized and maintained. Humidity levels are to be controlled, and ventilation is to be adequate.

"This is not simply slapping plywood on a building," Black said.

According to the new regulations, that plywood needs to be of a high grade. It also must be cut to fit the window opening and painted a flat, dark color, or one that matches the building.

Watertight roofs, secured doors and windows, repaired masonry and clean interiors and exteriors are hallmarks of buildings mothballed in line with city specifications.

"When a building is properly mothballed, winterized and secured, it makes it much less desirable as a target for the criminal element," 2nd District Councilman Chuck Grayeb said.

Properties to be mothballed must be registered with the city. Permits, valid for one year and renewable, are $20 and include a compliance inspection.

The city Historic Preservation Commission must sign off on mothballing requests for local landmarks or structures located in local historic districts. But Grayeb said benefits of the new regulations are likely to extend beyond buildings that have a history.

"Secure properties equate with secure neighborhoods," he said. "This will certainly help not only older neighborhoods but our heritage neighborhoods in general."

Said Conrad Stinnett, president of the West Bluff Council, "I think it's going to be a benefit in our arsenal."


Do you have a question for 2nd District Peoria City Councilman Chuck Grayeb? He is to participate in a live Web chat at 1 p.m. Thursday at Visit the website soon for additional details.


Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.