Downtown stakeholders want property owners to clean up their acts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown stakeholders want property owners to clean up their acts

April 11, 2007

Albany --  Many homes and businesses in downtown Albany are dilapidated and rundown. Business owners want to see them cleaned up so criminals will stay away, and more customers will come downtown.

D&D Kitchen Centers has been in business near the heart of downtown for more than 30 years. "This is a work in progress." Owner Paul Dunn says although there are some less than desirable structures in the area, it's actually gotten better. "It's a much safer neighborhood than it was five, six, seven years ago."

That's because some of the dilapidated buildings have been torn down, leaving fewer havens for criminals. "It's a slow evolution, but some of the slummier, less desirable elements have moved out with the age of the houses and the houses being demolished."

But they're not all gone. "We have people who are entering the dilapidated structures, taking part in ritualistic activities that are threatening. They are using them as staging areas when they are stealing from other property owners in the area," says Hope Campbell.

Hope Campbell says the gutted buildings run off business owners and customers. "We feel there is an urgent need for property owners to clean up this area to try to discourage people from hiding out and taking advantage of us."

So, on behalf of downtown stakeholders, she's drafted a letter to property owners asking them to bring their structures up to code, boarding up windows and doors and cleaning up. Some, she says need to be torn down altogether. "We are approaching all the property owners in our area to try to take proactive steps to eliminate the problems that we are having."

Paul Dunn says he thinks that's a great idea. To continue the evolution of downtown. "Business owners have got to go the extra mile."

Hope Campbell says she's actually put her building on the market because they've had problems with mail theft and other crimes. The city has a growing list of properties scheduled for demolition.  If you need the name of a contractor to demolish a structure, contact Mike Tilson with Code Enforcement.

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