SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux came under scrutiny when he announced the authorization of 35 properties deemed blighted by the Shreveport Department of Property Standards would be demolished.
Citing Shreveport‘s property standards requirements, particularly the exterior of the building, Arceneaux said the properties listed for demolition have gone beyond any mitigation effort, or the property owner simply refused to comply.
According to the mayor, all properties approved for demolition have been previously cited by property standards and had the opportunity to go before the environmental court. Still, those owners did not comply or ignored court orders.
“The owners have been notified. They have not fixed up their properties, and our choice there is to ignore the violations, which we don’t want to do, or to order a demolition,” Arceneaux said.
Arceneaux said he hopes property owners will be spurred into action once they see the city is serious about removing blight and begin to comply with the property standards code.
The move to demolish blighted property seems like a heavy-handed move from the newly elected mayor, but Arceneaux said that abandoned, unsightly property often is a precursor to crime.
“A lot of the crime we have occurs in neighborhoods that have a lot of blight like these properties, and it seems to breed crime,” Arceneaux said. “It makes people care less about their neighborhood and who’s in their neighborhood. And all of that contributes long-term to crime.”
Arceneaux said he hopes that eliminating blight and proper code enforcement will ultimately revive the neighborhoods and reduce crime.
One issue that critics of the mayor’s plan have raised is what will be built in place of the buildings that will be demolished. The city does not have a concrete plan to attract new builders.
“The property values in the neighborhood probably won’t sustain new construction,” Arceneaux said. “But they certainly would be available for new construction, and there are some programs out there that might result in some new construction, and we certainly hope that would occur.”
Residential properties are not the only properties slated for demolition. Some properties used to serve commercial purposes that are on the list. Arceneaux said all of the properties identified by the City of Shreveport have gone completely through all the necessary legal notices and processes.
According to Arceneaux, many of these abandoned structures present a public safety hazard that underlines the importance of managing property that has fallen into disrepair and neglect.
“Particularly in the winter months, they may start a fire. One of the ways that some of these fires start in Highland, Mooretown, or Cedar Grove are people who are not authorized to be in them build a fire or do something that creates a fire and burns a house down,” Arceneaux said. “And that also threatens the neighboring property.”
Abating blighted property does not come without an expense to the city, which pays the contractors for each demolition costing an average of about $3,500 per structure.
Arceneaux said that while the demolition of these properties is approved, owners will still receive a notice 30 days before the slated demolition date to ensure they have taken every reasonable step to work with the property owner.
Contractors will work on a rotating demolition schedule as assigned by property standards.
Arceneaux expects the demolition of the properties to begin within 60 days.
Here are the properties approved by Mayor Arceneaux for demolition:
4219 Youree Dr.
214 Merrick St.
148 Lister St.
1313 Centenary Bl.
4741 McDaniel Dr.
3916 Mayfield St.
4141 Ester St.
3880 Doris St.
4154 Melon St.
4139 Henry St.
7107 Burlingame Bl.
2532 Merwin St.
2550 Merwin St.
3127 Dupont St.
2750 W College St.
3501 Darien St.
3301 Judson St.
2719 Anna St.
1516 Myrtle St.
1844 Poland St.
936 Portland Av.
1418 Portland Av.
1700 Portland Av.
1704 Portland Av.
1828 St John St.
1539 Arlington Av.
2002 Talbot St.
3271 Marjorie St.
2166 Freddie St.
1621 Martin L King Dr.
1748 Midway St.
1633 Oakdale St.
1541 Belwood St.
4017 Joplin Av.
1327 Summers St.