Why hasn’t city done more to demolish abandoned apartments

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lantana Apartments along Northwest 10th, near Rockwell, caught fire not once but twice Tuesday. The complex has been vacant for years. Many in the area wonder why the city has not demolished the buildings or done something more to get rid of the complex.

The city says tearing it down would come at the taxpayer’s expense.

Since April of 2011, fire crews have been called to the Lantana Apartments four times, two of those calls were yesterday.

It’s one of many vacant complexes in the city.

The city says the current owner just bought the property a year ago and is making an effort to clean up the place.

Charles Locke, with OKC code enforcement, says, “It’s not something you just do overnight, especially on commercial properties.”

In fact, the windows and doors were just boarded up last week.

Though it appears someone still got inside and was able to set two fires on Tuesday.

OKC Fire Chief Keith Bryant says, “We’re concerned about those types of structures from a public safety standpoint. A lot of time the condition of the building can be hazardous to citizens.”

We do know one burned out building on the property has been removed.

It was demolished right after the new owner took over.

Now there are six other buildings that have some sort of fire damage.

Locke says, “There were quite a few problems with the previous owner. They really weren’t putting any money into the property at all.”

The city says under the previous owners, more than $40,000 in taxpayer money was spent taking care of code violations.

While it isn’t visible, the new owner has shown the city he is making progress.

Locke says, “He’s in the process of receiving bids to remove those buildings.”

It’s a process that takes months due to necessary permits from the Department of Environmental Quality and the city.

Locke says as long as the owner shows work is being done, the city won’t step in to condemn the property or tear down the buildings.

It’s actually an effort to save taxpayers money because demolition of just one of these buildings would cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000.

We did talk with the owner of the building, Robert Dedogelaere with AMG Lantana.

He tells us, “The intent is to bring the building back to very good condition and rent the property.”

He says, “It is unfortunate that there are people there that think it’s OK to burn buildings down.”

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