St. Louis City’s battle with vacant properties

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Two years ago a St. Louis couple started calling city hall about condemned property next door to their home.

They say they're tired of living next door to a crumbling structure.

Clearly this couple has reason to be concerned.  Their home is structurally sound and well maintained.  But the house next door threatens to disrupt their peace of mind.

Rob and Marika Ward called Contact 2 and we spoke with city officials.

The next day the demolition crew was on site and the building was coming down.  The couple says they were forced to live with the risk for too long.

They bought their home 2 1/2 years ago.   They've made improvements.  And they want to continue living in the city, but they don't feel comfortable with the vacant house next door.

The Wards wrote the mayor, the building division and their alderman. The large single family near Union and Ridge was on the demolition list.  But nothing happened on the demolition date.

When we finished talking to the wards, we drove a block over and found Dorothy Duncan collecting signatures from her neighbors.

Ms. Duncan lives on a street with 16 vacant houses.  Some are condemned.

On Ridge where the Wards live I counted 22 vacant properties.   Half of the 22 sit in Ald. Frank Williamson's 26th Ward.

The 26th Ward gets $42,000 annually for demolition. Williamson says that only enough to take down 5 or 6 buildings.   The city's building division has a $1.5 million budget for demolition.   But there are 2,000 condemned properties are on the list, another 4,000 are vacant.

Some of the vacant buildings are privately owned.  But by default, other buildings are owned by the city.

The Wards and their neighbors are grateful for our help in getting one nuisance property removed. If you have a question about the status of derelict property in your neighborhood, you need to be vigilant about bringing it to the attention of your elected officials.

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