Melted yellow siding hangs from the charred duplex, exposing the pink insulation underneath.
Pieces of plywood are boarded around what once were doors and windows.
After nearly a year and a half, the two-family home in the 3600 block of East Munkwitz Avenue stands vacant and in ruins, the result of a fire in January 2008.
"It's a big eyesore in this whole neighborhood," said John Gorecki, a resident in the 3600 block of East Munkwitz Avenue. "In my opinion, it should have been torn down."
City officials agree. "It's been a legal headache," Mayor Ryan McCue said.
That rings true for both parties, the city of Cudahy and New Renaissance LLC, the owner of the property, which is now in financial turmoil.
Last year, the Plan Commission rejected plans submitted by Randy and Kathy Plowman of New Renaissance to renovate the building. New Renaissance is a couple-owned construction company that purchased the residence for $20,000 after the fire in hopes of making affordable repairs.
At that time, the couple wanted to tear rebuild the building for an estimated $50,000, Kathy Plowman said.
But the Plowmans' plans were denied because commissioners said 50 percent of the building was damaged and it should be razed, Building Inspector Butch Loferski said.
The Plan Commission also said an engineer would need to inspect the building before repairs could be made.
Structure is sound
The Plowmans hired a structural engineer, who determined that the structure could be fixed, Kathy Plowman said.
"There was nothing wrong with the structure," Randy Plowman said. "The fire hadn't damaged the basement."
Kathy Plowman said only one-third of the duplex was burned in the fire, which was mostly confined to the front of the residence. "It's expensive to tear down the entire building," she said.
But city officials still wanted the residence demolished, and a raze order was issued.
Last fall, the case was taken to court, and a Milwaukee County judge ruled in favor of Renaissance that the property could be repaired, and that the city's raze order was not proper because the building had been damaged in a fire, City Attorney Paul Eberhardy said.
But now that six months have elapsed since the judge's decision and nothing has been done to the residence, city officials are looking at "other alternatives" to encourage the owners to fix up the building, he said.
"We just want them to clean up the property," Eberhardy said. "The building sitting there is an absolute eyesore to the community."
Couple is divorcing
Although the Plowmans received legal permission to rebuild, the couple is no longer in a position to do so. The couple is going through a divorce, and the couple-owned business is in debt.
"We found financially hard times," Kathy Plowman said. "It's sad because we could have fixed it in June (of 2008)."
The couple has incurred expenses for lawyers and had to shell out $3,500 for property taxes.
Kathy Plowman hopes the duplex will be sold for a reasonable price and to someone who can repair it.
"It's not an easy property to sell because of the condition it's in," she said.
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