Judge: Boarded-up building in downtown Memphis isn’t a nuisance

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An eyesore in the heart of downtown Memphis is here to stay.

The city and Downtown Memphis Commission have tried everything to redevelop an abandoned building on Main Street for the past decade, because thousands of tourists and investors walk past it each week.

“When they see a boarded up building, and they say, ‘What’s going on there?’ I have to say, ‘It’s been boarded up for years, and we can’t get it redeveloped.’ That kind of makes them think this city doesn’t care about itself,” said Downtown Memphis Commission President Paul Morris.

“We worked with the property owner for many years to buy it or sell it for above appraised value, and he turned all of those offers down,” Morris added.

So Morris and the city took the owner to court for negligence.

Wednesday, Judge Larry Potter dismissed the case, saying since the building is boarded up and there’s no harm.

“It may not be a physical harm, but it is a harm to this neighborhood. Every day the neighborhood suffers having this building be neglected,” said Morris.

The property owner, Alan Long, has yet to return WREG’s messages.

People who live downtown are hoping he’s working on a deal to redevelop or sell it.

“No one takes care of it. It needs to be maintained and quite frankly, I think there is an opportunity to develop it into something useful,” said downtown resident Lewis Fort.

“I think it would be better if they put something else in there to convey this isn’t the old Memphis. This is new, and it is upcoming,” said downtown resident Kayla DeSutter.

Morris said by getting rid of boarded up buildings, property values will go up and bring more money to the city.

“What we have to do is raise property values, and I think one great way to do that is to prompt blighted property owners to increase the property values by redeveloping them,” Morris said.

He added the city and the commission are determining whether they want to appeal, bring the owner to court on a different code violation, or try to change the anti-neglect code.

9 comments

  • Drew

    1 empty boarded up building is not nuisance but the projects on National geographic should be. Something’s missing from this non story.

  • Calypso

    Blight is a BIG problem that pulls down Memphis, but there are a couple of simple actions that can be taken to force owners to get there act together.
    First enforce small fines at 30 days vacancy. Make the fines much higher at 6 months and threaten seizure after one year of fines. Make a year of fines ridiculously high for residential owners and even higher for commercial property owners.
    If that is still not enough to force owners to be responsible (like Alan Long) then require them to do written explanations of their plans and progress with the property every 30 days, along with absurd fines pending seizure if they miss compliance.

    Since their property bothers the community, the government out to bother the hell out of them. We WOULD see much better responsibility by owners and less blight around Memphis. Other cities has proven this to be effective already . . . so should we.

    • Rick

      The city could use Eminent Domain to seize the land and sell it to someone willing to rehabilitate it. These laws have been used in the past to seize land for development that increases the tax base of the land.

  • Kevin

    The city should secretly pay someone to burn all of these abandon buildings to the ground. And make sure the Fire Dept. know to let them burn, just keep the flames from spreading …

  • hisv

    ’’ Skepticism’’

    Do not call me American
    If I can’t be treated well
    Because of my nature,
    But I do have a mind
    And I also have a heart
    They’re aware of the
    Same brightness as all.

    Do not call me citizen
    If I have to be botched.
    Indeed, my DNA is hot
    Because Mississippi is
    Still burning.
    Quench then the fire, and
    The best will glow among us.
    The mine’s tag no. found
    In Savannah, and it belonged
    To the same anthem as all.

    Do not call me American
    If so on, and on!
    Do not call me Bo, as well,
    If my exertion can’t be branded
    Into the melting-pot,
    Because of my backdrop, and
    The mine’s shabby boots are still
    At the Museums where they’re
    Aware of the same color as all…

    • Rick

      Worst poem ever, if you can even cal it a poem. It’s more like a disjointed group of words or or lines from a bad rap.

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