West Memphis gets tough on blight around Broadway

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon has set his sights on cleaning up Broadway Boulevard, the city’s main east-west corridor, in hopes of attracting more businesses.

Owners of five nuisance properties have been notified their vacant buildings could soon be coming down as the mayor gets tough on blight.

“We’re revitalizing West Memphis. We’re addressing a lot of issues wthin the city,” McClendon said.

McClendon was on the road Wednesday but told us by phone he’s anxious to tear down five nuisance properties on East Broadway Boulevard already condemned by the West Memphis city council.

“These buildings have been in this shape for years and if you go look at the buildings, some just have a cover on the front, because they don’t even have a roof on there,” he said.

McClendon says four buildings are in the 800 block of Broadway, in addition to the old train depot located at Fifth and Broadway.

One building has actually a tree growing in the middle of it. Two other buildings have been burned, he said.

Property owners have been given ten days to respond to the city. If no action is taken, the city will tear down the structures and bill the owners.

The mayor is hoping to breathe new life into this section of the city’s main east-west corridor and attract new businesses to locate here.

“It makes the city look tacky,” Alisha Brown said. “You know, we try to keep the city looking good. The mayor’s doing a great job trying to do that.”

Brown is on board with the mayor’s efforts. Brown and her father run the 8th Street Mission for Jesus Christ. Their thrift store is a stones throw from one of the buildings slated to be demolished.

Brown says vandals and homeless people make their way inside the property and she believes this blight contributes to crime in the community. She says new businesses will keep jobs and dollars on this side of the Mississippi River.

“Bring in some more business for people looking for work, because it’s hard over here compared to Tennessee,” she said. “We don’t have too many opportunities for jobs over here. You know, a lot of people go across the bridge.”

McClendon says since the I-40 bridge closed, Broadway Boulevard is starting to show the effcts of increased vehicle traffic, especially 18-wheelers, which have in some cases detoured through residential areas.

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