(WMC-TV) - The City of Memphis is saying "goodbye and good riddance" to blight. A derelict apartment complex, formerly called Park Place Apartments, sat vacant for four years breeding crime. It is now being demolished.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says demolishing the apartments required the city to play a bit of a "shell game" with the property owners.
"Past years, the last 33 years, no owner has pulled a permit to make any significant changes in this," said Mayor Wharton. "Yet, it just sits here, in the midst of a community, taking down the value of the other properties surrounding it, becoming a haven for crime and all other activities, just destroying what is one of our best neighborhoods."
Wharton thinks tougher laws will go a long way to stopping this kind of blight, laws tougher even than the vacant property registry recently passed by the city council.
Dr. Yvonne Nelson, president of the McCorkle Road Neighborhood Development Corporation, lives on McCorkle Road. She hopes the demolition is only the beginning, pointing to other Whitehaven properties in similar states of disrepair.
"We are just elated with the possibilities that will come behind this," she said. "This is a great start. Not only for Whitehaven, but for Memphis to start taking back our communities."
For the mayor, it is a promise to other blighted property owners.
"This is the end of this kind of stuff. We're coming after you no matter where you are," warned Wharton.
The mayor says the McCorkle Road demolition is among the most costly blight removal efforts, costing the city roughly half of a million dollars.
He says once the city gets to the bottom of who actually owns the property, that owner will foot the demolition bill.