NORFOLK, Neb. -- A study presented to Norfolk City Council has declared downtown Norfolk "blight and substandard."

The study, conducted by JEO Consulting, was presented to the city council Tuesday evening.

There Jeff Ray of JEO presented the studies, arguing the area fit the criteria to be called blight and substandard.

The study area, as seen above, encompassed the downtown area of Norfolk. 

Ray admitted that there is a stigma when these studies are conducted due to their designation.

Ray explained it's not meant to shame anyone or that actions need to be taken, but simply that the criteria in the study have been met.

These criteria include a substantial number of deteriorating structures, unsafe or unsanitary conditions, decreasing population, structures older than 40 years, economic and social liabilities, and more. 

According to JEO's study, 71% of structures in the designated area were deteriorating. Areas were also found to be unsafe due to debris, tripping hazards, a lack of sidewalks, and more.

Residential and commercial structure ages were also found to be well over the 40-year mark, averaging 89 and 90 years old.

Ray also explained why the city was pursuing a study for the area, and what financial opportunities the study opened the city to. 

"Really there's only two reasons to do a blight study," Ray said. "One would be, ultimately incentivize an area for tax increment financing. That's not the intent here. The other reason is to pursue a downtown revitalization grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development."

Ray said it is the latter option the study intends to fulfill. In order to qualify, however, the area needed to be re-designated as blight and substandard to qualify for grants.

These grants would then in turn be used on projects to improve the downtown area of Norfolk. 

The council voted unanimously in favor of approving the study.