Property owners need to clean up blight

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Derelict and dilapidated properties hurt our city in several ways. They can lower property values, and also hurt the aesthetic beauty of our community. And, as we learned Monday, they can also occasionally be a safety hazard.

On Monday morning, a fire-damaged building on Alabama Avenue partially collapsed, spilling bricks onto adjacent properties and destroying a vehicle for sale at a used-car business. The owner of that business, Floyd Burdeaux, had gone to examine the commotion as the collapse was occurring, and was standing mere feet from the site. He could have been seriously hurt.

The building, which once housed Busby’s Karate and Landry Restaurant, was one of several damaged in a block-wide fire in February 2014. Some of the damaged structures in that fire had already been demolished and rebuilt, but others — like the Landry building — remained in a state of disrepair.

It is unclear what actually caused the collapse Monday, but the likely culprit is simply time. The effects of the fire were allowed to fester over months until the structure simply gave way.

While it is good that no people were hurt, this incident still could have been avoided had the building been simply demolished shortly after the fire. It also is another example of why it is so important for owners of eyesore properties to take the responsibility to clean up their messes. And if government agencies are making that process difficult to complete, then they need to cooperate better with the property owners as well.

We hope that other property owners take the lesson of the Landry building to heart, and work to clean up their own decrepit buildings. It will make our community cleaner, nicer and, perhaps, even safer.