MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Friday, March 29, the City of Mobile announced a new initiative to crack down on building code violations in downtown.
FOX10 dug deeper to find the answer to important questions, like why is it being done only in downtown Mobile?
OLD BUICK BUILDING
Mayor Sam Jones and other city officials held the news conference to announce the crackdown with the old building at 451 St. Louis Street in the background.
They said the building is on the list of structures they want repaired.
When you look at the building you see windows that are broken, or completely gone, graffiti, and bricks falling on the sidewalk.
City officials cited at least six other properties by address that need repair, but say there are more.
Laura Clarke, the Director of the Urban Development Department, said, "A lot of our vacant buildings, we've had vagrant problems with, resulting in fires. Obviously, there are serious safety issues there."
Mayor Jones said, "The reason for this is to improve the aesthetics of our downtown area. We have a lot people now looking at our downtown area."
Elizabeth Sanders with the Downtown Mobile Alliance said, "It really is something that is a matter of parity, creating an environment where people want to invest."
City officials will hold a meeting with property owners Monday, then, starting Tuesday, they say they will check every property within the Hank Aaron Loop over the next four weeks.
Why just within the loop?
Mayor Jones said, "It has to do with the level of resources we have, as well as the fact that we really want to target our downtown area to try to abate some of the issues we see downtown."
Owners will have 30 days to fix the problem.
If they don't, they'll get a notice of violation, and then another 30 days to fix the problem.
If there are still violations, they'll get a municipal office ticket, which can include a fine of about $500 or even jail time.
Clarke said, "I believe the jail time is up to six months, or it could be commuted to a community service option."
People who live and work downtown are already talking about the crackdown.
One of big concerns: abandoned homes, and people staying inside of them.
Sherri Rawls of Mobile said, "That abandoned house has a bunch of wood rats in there, and that's not good for any person who tries to go in there."
Brannon Leverette of Mobile said, "They need to keep the homeless people out. They need a place to stay, but they need a legal place to stay."
Winston Morris of Mobile said, "Its a good thing to hear, but its also a good thing to get it done, too.
LEASING THE OLD BUICK BUILDING
As for the old Buick Building, there's a sign on it saying it's being leased by MCR, or Milling Commercial Realty.
We called the phone number on the sign and sent an e-mail, asking why the building was in disrepair and were there plans to fix it.
As of now, we haven't heard back from the company yet.
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