Blighted Complex Lives On

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(Memphis) Pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship Church, James Henderson said it’s hard for him or his church members to ignore the huge blighted apartment complex across the street.

“When the grasses are high we've got rodents that we are dealing with,” explained Henderson.

He is talking about Walter Simmons Housing complex that has been vacant for nearly 10 years. More than 6 years ago, the City of Memphis acquired the property in hopes of using the land to centralize all of it’s general services.

But according to director of the city's Housing and Community Development Division Robert Lipscomb another deal that was supposed to fund the project fell through and now Walter Simmons sits in a holding pattern.

News Channel 3 spoke with Director of Neighborhood Improvement Onzie Horne about why the property is still standing and deteriorating.

“It’s an extremely large complex to be demolished and because of its age it’s filled with environmental hazards, asbestos and the like. It is estimated that just the EPA clearance, of those environmentals will approach a million dollars in addition to that the cost of demolition. The bulk of the cost of the demolition goes to the legal disposal of the debris in an authorized and approved land fill,” explained Horne.

Lipscomb said that right now the city is looking for funds to clean up the property.  And until then, the Walter Simmons complex remains in a holding pattern.