“No property is worse than Lantana,” Neighbors, Oklahoma City officials tired of abandoned complex

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Neighbors claim an abandoned apartment complex is now a haven for arsonists and other criminals.

City officials say the Lantana Apartments, near N.W. 10th and Council Rd., have been vacant for more than five years.

This weekend, fire crews were called to put out a blaze at the complex, which has become a regular occurence.

"It's been exposed to the elements. It's been exposed to vandalism and it's been on fire multiple times," said District Fire Chief Benny Fulkerson, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

He says that since 2010, fire crews have been called to the complex 18 times.

Five of those calls have been in just the last month.

Residents who live nearby say they do not want to deal with the problem any longer.

“They need to tear it down or let it burn. One or the other,” said John Ewing, who lives near the complex.

Broken windows and burned out buildings are just some of the problems you can see from the street.

It's an unkempt property of which neighbors have grown tired.

The city says the complex has changed from one owner to another over the years. With each change came the promise of repair.

“Each time, we really hope that will happen,” said Kristy Yager, with the City of Oklahoma City.

But rather than being repaired, the building continues to fall into disrepair.

 “It's the city's number one nuisance apartment. No property is worse than Lantana,” said Yager.

The city says to tear it down would cost them close to $1 million.

“One of the problems is that building is just covered in asbestos,” Yager said.

Right now, the city's best effort is billing the owner in California for every emergency call.

That bill is $65 per firefighter or police officer per hour their time is used.

Still, neighbors are not happy.

“It's not safe for our school. It's not safe for our children and it attracts undesirable people,” said Rita Swonger, who lives nearby.

Neighbors believe the city is ignoring their concerns and should be doing more.

The utilities have been turned off to the complex for some time. Fire officials say all of the fires, at least those in the last month, appear to have been intentionally set.

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