Against the backdrop of a mound of trash in the parking lot of the rundown, abandoned Peach Tree apartments in Frayser, Mayor A C Wharton announced today that the city would be filing 86 lawsuits against the owners of blighted properties located throughout the city.
Additionally, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office is filing public nuisance petitions against 11 blighted properties. The city lawsuits and nuisance actions are being filed in the Shelby County Environmental Court under the Neighborhood Preservation Act. District Attorney Amy Weirich said, although negligent property owners may not seem like common criminals, they're "terrorizing neighborhoods with blight."
Through these lawsuits, the city hopes to force property owners, either by court order or consent, to rehabilitate, demolish, or divest their titles to the properties.
"These blighted properties are like the Statue of Liberty to criminals, but we're taking away their Statue of Liberty. These properties will no longer be a beckoning call for them to come and do their evil deeds," said Wharton.
The lawsuits are a continuation of the mayor's Campaign to End Blight, which launched last year with 138 lawsuits filed against owners of blighted properties. Since those suits were filed, two-thirds of those properties have been demolished or rehabbed. Specifically, there have been 46 rehabilitations and 19 demolitions. Eighteen are currently being renovated, and there are still 24 active cases.
Citizens who wish to report blight in their communities are urged to call 576-6500.
West Egg Properties, the California-based company that owns the Peach Tree Apartments at 3180 Steele in Frayser, are among those being sued by the city.
"This is where little children live and play," Wharton said, referring to the littered parking lot at the Peach Tree, which is located across the street from Frayser High School. "This is the world they see on their way to school. This is not a prop. It's a day in the life of Mary, Eddie, Bobby, Sally, Jose, and Edgar."