Vacant former K-Mart draws blight complaints in Hickory Hill

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People who live near a Hickory Hill shopping center say they’re fed up with the litter and trash that’s taken over a former K-Mart on Winchester. Now the city is trying to get the area cleaned up.

City leaders say the current conditions are not only unacceptable, but a code violation. That’s why the property owner is now headed to Environmental Court.

A city inspector is on the site of a vacant former K-Mart in Hickory Hill, where neighbors have been complaining about blight. (photo by Jonee Lewis, WREG)

“I actually grew up in Hickory Hill and this used to be a very vibrant shopping plaza. However, since the dilapidation has occurred, crime has been on the rise for many years,” said James Alex Sanders.

What once was a bright spot in Hickory Hill is now an eyesore. Those who live here say the piles of trash, mattresses and shopping carts didn’t end up there overnight.

“I think this is representative of a lot of failed businesses, but it doesn’t reflect the entire community or entire neighborhood,” Thomas Hill said.

Since the store closed, there have been several glimpses of new life, but none coming to fruition.

“It says that someone’s given up,” Hill said. “Sign after sign after sign goes up saying it’s a new business coming, and it just never materializes.”

People who live here say what you see driving by doesn’t show what this community is about.

“I think when people see neglect and abandonment, it does send a signal that nobody cares,” Hill said. “I don’t think that’s the case. The other businesses on this row want a good environment.”

So residents been taking action, filing 311 complaints, hoping the city would intervene.

The city issued a violation order on the property. The owner was supposed to appear in Environmental Court on Monday, but never showed.

Tuesday, WREG found a city inspector was on the site and learned an out-of-state attorney recently purchased the building with plans to fix it up.

It’s a change this community is eager to see.

“I know that we care and I know that we want it to improve, but we have to start with areas such as this,” Sanders said.

Because the property owner didn’t show up, the case has been reset to next month.

The city says the owner will have to pay 10 times the fees once an amount is determined.

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