MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Marlon Becton owns a business around the corner from a cluster of abandoned apartments in Whitehaven.
“I’ve been there 12 years and it’s been an eye sore for the 12 years,” Becton said. “Even though it was occupied it was an eye sore.”
On Monday, the blemish on his community began being wiped away.
“Now that it’s going away, it’s a good thing,” Becton said.
“What a beautiful day it is to see equipment tearing these structures down,” Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said.
One property on Cazassa was taken by the county, and an adjacent property on Winchester was taken by the city.
According to city and county officials, previous owners did not pay property taxes. The buildings sat for years and painted a not-so-pretty picture for the Whitehaven neighborhood.
“When you look to the right and left of us here, you can see blight, you can see ugliness, you can see all the things that are bad,” Luttrell said.
As machines tore down the dilapidated buildings, once valued at millions of dollars, one may start to see the possibility of something good.
It will take the city and county a combined one million dollars to finish knocking the buildings down.
Once demolition crews complete their job, a non-profit is going to maintain the property until someone buys it. Neighborhood Preservation Incorporated (NPI) aims to eliminate barriers to redevelopment.
By knocking down the abandoned apartment buildings, it makes the land more attractive to potential buyers.
“This is much more than tearing down an unsightly structure,” Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said.
Mayor Wharton sees the demolition as a chance to deter criminal activity.
“This is just a haven for hiding your stolen stuff, throwing your stolen guns, your prostitution,” Mayor Wharton said.
Just like the buildings were smashed to smithereens, community members like Becton hope crime is crushed along with them.