HORNELL — The City of Hornell is cutting down zombies at a rate that would impress fictional television heroes.

Zombie properties that have been abandoned by owners in default on their mortgages or behind on their taxes have been a bane of local officials for years, but now the city’s Codes Office is reaching out in several directions to help put an end to the problem once and for all.

With help, one property that has fallen into disrepair will be coming down. A property at 23 Wells St. is slated to be demolished, with help from the Steuben County Land Bank.

“It was a property where there was so many cats in there,” said Bud Burdett, director of Facilities Management and Neighborhood Revitalization.

The demolition of the building could be a boon for neighbors in several ways. First, the vacant lot left by the demolition may be uses as a neighborhood lot, a necessity with the narrow nature of the street.

The new lot may also reduce parking tickets issued by police.

“The streets are so narrow that more people are pulling up on their lawns, and I’m having my officers ticket them. It’s bad for the pipes and it looks bad,” said Chief Ted Murray, referring to narrow streets generally.

Additionally, the structure at 23 Wells will no longer drag down property values in the area.

A recent change in the economic outlook locally, also has residents and outside investors eyeing properties in Hornell again. As Alstom adds jobs, the demand for “high quality” properties is skyrocketing.

According to Burdett, local investors have also expressed interest in houses on the vacant properties list on High and Delaware streets in the city.

The popularity of investment properties was also apparent at the recent Steuben County tax auction, where 11 city properties were sold, many to private developers.

As a result of the outreach and expanded resources, the city has made significant headway on the issue, reducing the number of zombie properties from 57 to 25 known properties.

“That’s a 66 percent reduction,” Burdett pointed out.

He credited a recent $75,000 grant the city received to aid in documenting, tracking and addressing properties, and expressed interest in seeking out more grants.

The Police and Fire departments have also played an increased role in reporting properties that are vacant or have sanitary issues.

“We’ve always worked together well,” Murray confirmed.

While state money has provided help, new statewide regulations are making it harder for codes to “red tag” or condemn properties that for health and safety issues, now requiring “imminent danger” as a standard.