Demolition began this week on a row of York City homes that stood for 18 months after a fire gutted the structures, leaving them an uninhabitable breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes.
Some residents of the east-end neighborhood have spent much of that time lobbying York City officials for help.
On Wednesday, neighbor Phil Krewson said he was "tickled to death" to finally see bulldozers in the neighborhood.
"We got two of them down and one to go," he said.
One of the three homes, 620 Wallace St., remains standing. Demolition of that structure, which shares a wall with an owner-occupied property next door, could be several more weeks away.
The two demolished homes - 622 and 624 Wallace St.
But the third home remains caught up in an ownership tussle among its owner, the city and the charter school.
The city's Redevelopment Authority voted in July to seize the property through eminent domain - a process that can take months to complete - and then sell it to the charter school.
The school does not yet own that building, Anne Clark, the charter system's community outreach specialist, said Wednesday. But, she said, school officials expect to officially buy the property within weeks.
"They're just waiting for the paperwork to be finalized," Clark said.
Then, demolition could happen shortly thereafter, she said. Plans call for the space to be planted with grass after the school's expansion is complete, a project that will take about a year.
That's especially good news for Ed and Anna Mae Foller, whose home of 50 years is attached to 620 Wallace St.
The Follers' home suffered significant water damage from firefighting efforts next door. And, since that day, they've feared arsonists and vandals who might be attracted to the burned-out property.
"Once that's down, if they put in green, I'll like that," Anna Mae Foller said Wednesday.
When he moved to Ridge Avenue 17 years ago, Krewson said the neighborhood was "a beautiful place to live."
Since then, he said, owner-occupied properties have turned into rentals. Crime, including corner drug dealers, is common.
Krewson said he's hopeful the school's expansion project will trigger a rebirth for his neighborhood, similar to the results in the city's northwest section following the construction of Sovereign Bank Stadium.
Clark said the charter system is aiming to trigger positive change on the city's east end. That's what happened in the West King Street neighborhood around Lincoln Charter School, she said.
"When people see things start to happen, people jump in," Clark said. "That's what's going to happen here."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.