Atlanta to conduct largest codes enforcement demolition in city history

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -Charles Gaston bought his Bolton Road home about 4 years ago. He renovated it to look brand new.
The only problem would be his across the street neighbors consist of squatters and alleged crooks dwelling inside the dilapidated and abandoned apartments across the street from him. “The homeless people have taken over that place and it’s real bad,” Gaston said. “They catch it on fire all the time,” he told CBS46.
The nearly 30-acres in the Bankhead/Bolton community has become a center for crime, from drugs to prostitution, to illegal dumping and theft. “They’ll steal anything that’s loose. They stole my car cover off my car,” Gaston said, recalling several different thefts at his home. The property, which used to hold around 150 apartments has also been the site of several fires over the last eight years. The most recent was March 15. “I lived a few miles north from here,” said District 9 Atlanta City Councilman Dustin Hillis. “I would just drive by here and think wow. What happened to this place,” Hillis added.
After working behind the scenes for years, Hillis helped score a major victory with code enforcement by obtaining demolition orders for the buildings. This week Atlanta City Council identified $800,000 dollars it will use to finally demolish the vacant buildings. It will be the biggest code enforcement demolition in Atlanta history. They hope to have it started by mid-July. Hillis says about $500,000 will come from a Federal Community Development Block Grant. About $300,000 will be secured through liens the city is placing on the properties against the small group of owners they were able to locate.
Hillis says most of the owners are listed as LLC’s, and the city unable to locate them. He says there are multiple owners for different parts of the buildings, which has made the codes enforcement process difficult and protracted.
He says the city has not yet discussed development plans for the property, but residents like Gaston are optimistic that change is around the corner. “I’m overjoyed about that because I know once they clear it up, somebody is going to buy the property and build some nice homes there so that’ll put me in a better place in life,” Gaston said. “It will be more peaceful and hopefully bring in some good neighbors.”
The city is planning to have a demolition party to kick off the project.

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