Turning Around a Deadly Commercial Property
Prior to our appointment, police received literally daily calls to handle disturbances at this property, that housed both a liquor store and an evangelical church. It was a hotbed of crime plaguing the local area; the scene of shootings (one fatal), drug sales and gang activity. Yet the horrific criminal activity on the property was only part of the problem, since the violations of health and safety laws onsite were equally disturbing. City code enforcement inspectors found the liquor store to be the source of the problem, as it was maintained in a highly unsanitary way. Decaying materials including bottles of urine were stored next to food for sale and the property lacked potable water. Additionally, the walls and ceilings were dilapidated and the building was not structurally sound. Parts of the roof were missing and windows were damaged, which allowed the elements inside of the building and increased the spread of mold. Junk and debris cluttered the interior of the store and, although it was not permitted to be a residence, people were living onsite. Two years of city code enforcement efforts to work with the owners to restore this property were unsuccessful, and we were appointed by a Superior Court Judge to ensure the removal of the dangerous conditions at the property.
Finding a Solution That Would Benefit a Diverse Group of People
Our first step was to secure this property and put an end to the criminal activity onsite. We installed 24-hour security and were informed by law enforcement that calls for police services to the property stopped after we took over. It was not safe for the church to operate inside of the building due to the structural issues and we helped the parishioners relocate to a new building. Construction on commercial properties is done with a business goal in mind, but we didn’t know what the future owner of this property would use it for. We felt it best to arrange a sale and find a new owner who would not only fix the violations of health and safety codes, but also set up a business that would bring value to the surrounding community. Family Dollar Stores expressed their interest in purchasing the property and building a store there. Working together with city code enforcement as well as the Court, we determined that a Family Dollar Store would benefit the surrounding community. Plus, the company has the means to complete the necessary restoration work on this property and maintain it in compliance with health and safety laws in the future. Our initial plan was to sell the property to a local non-profit community development corporation, but they were not able to put the money together and we revived the owner’s sale to Family Dollar Stores, which now owns the property. We are currently transitioning the property to its new owner and our jurisdiction will remain over it until Family Dollar Stores completes the work to remove the dangers onsite.