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.

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