Fighting Blight with a Spray Paint Can

Fighting Blight with a Spray Paint Can

Eleven thousand square feet of blight. A boarded apartment complex sits right in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in midtown Memphis.
MEMPHIS, TN-- Eleven thousand square feet of blight. A boarded apartment complex sits right in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in midtown Memphis. It's been vacant for more than a decade. Several deals have gone sour. The owner says he has no money to fix it up. Neighbors are tired of it and got our attention with a "clever" message. Across the boarded up windows and doors it says "They don't care about us. Stand up now!" The owner of the property had no idea that message was there until I showed up the pictures.

The message couldn't be any clearer.

"It means to stand up now and do something about this," said an upset neighbor Pat Bailey.

"Well obviously the state doesn't care about the abandoned buildings being there," said another neighbor Irene Gillion. "You have crack heads going in there and  all kinds of unwanted activities."

"There are drug problems, all kinds of bad stuff going on in there," said Bailey.

Larry Mayall of First National Realty owns the abandoned Overton Manor apartment complex. It sits on the corner of East Parkway North and Summer Avenue. He bought it 5 years ago.

"What I thought I could do with that building is get a mixed use zoning for it and have a real estate firm on the first floor that's parallel on Parkway and make it residential upstairs," stated Mayall.

It hasn't happened. He blames the banks.

"The big issue is the availability of lending by the banks to put the investment in it," he stated.

We asked Mayall if he "cared" about his property because according to the graffiti someone thinks he doesn't.

"It's not a matter of neglect and it's fairly expensive to keep the property up, I've done that for several years," said Mayall.

He's had the property on the market for 4 years but has had no luck in selling it, "I can hope that's the best that I can do. I wish I had something solid because I have money invested in it but I would hope that we will have something going with it."

Neighbors are hoping too. Not for painters to cover up the message, something much more.

"Bring life back," said Gillion.

In 2001 Walgreen's wanted to buy that property from the previous owner but it went south. Mayall says in the last few weeks he has several local and out of state interest in buying his apartment complex. He says it would cost at least $400,000 to fix up the entire building.
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