Major push to fight blight in Petersburg

By Nicole Bell - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Petersburg is cracking down on blighted properties, specifically on main thoroughfares.

West End Health Food Center has sat vacant and in poor condition for years. Wednesday the two story structure took a tumble, knocked down as part of a city push to fight blight.

"It was getting ready to fall down on its own so it ain't take but two hits and it fell," said resident Charlotte Spencer.

The fall of the building is part of an aggressive effort to have run down structures brought up to code or demolished.

"We're very serious. If the owners won't take the buildings down, the city is going take the buildings down and they're going put a lien against the property," said City Spokesperson Joanne Williams.

City leaders are targeting a dozen structures on Washington and Wythe Streets, the city's main thoroughfares.

"These buildings have been sitting like this for a long time. The owners have made no attempt to rehabilitate these buildings," Williams said.

Violation notices went out to property owners.

"Most of the owners are not in Petersburg. They're either out of this area or out of state" said Williams.

Some consider these structures a community hazard.

"Kids see these houses. They go in their and can get hurt," said Petersburg Fire Department Chief T.C Hairston.

City leaders say they're trying to create a better and safer atmosphere for it's citizens. Although the city is focusing on dilapidated properties located on main thoroughfares, city leaders say the push is city wide.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.