City demolishes recently purchased blighted property - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

City demolishes recently purchased blighted property

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New Orleans, La. - Developer Peter Gardner says he worked for more than a year to purchase the blighted house at 2335 Conti. Finally, in April, he purchased the property on auction from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority for $30,000.

"The agreement that I remember was that I had to sign with them was that I would have to renovate within a certain period of time. I remember that being a year," says Gardner.

Gardner says he knew the house was in bad shape, so he stabilized it and started to work on financing the renovation project.

On Monday morning, four months after the purchase, Gardner says he visited the property to find a demolition crew taking it down.

"I yelled at the demolition contractor. I said, 'Where's your permit?' And he pulled the permit out of a truck," says Gardner.

The city tells FOX 8 an inspector visited the property a month earlier, on June 13, after receiving numerous complaints from people in the neighborhood.

"My complaint was the house they abandoned. They were selling drugs out of the abandoned house," says Julia Dedrick.

Dedrick lives next door and says she had no idea the property had recently been purchased by Gardner.

The inspector, at the time, deemed it 'in imminent danger of collapse.'

Gardner says he had no idea that an inspection had been done or that the city was going to demolish the house. "I go by there almost every day. There was no notices placed on the building. I never received any letters in the mail," says Gardner.

The city says because the property was deemed an imminent danger, it didn't have to notify Gardner of the demolition. "But it's interesting... I mean if they had declared it in imminent danger of collapse a month before they took it down, shouldn't they have posted a sign on the building?" says Gardner.

Now the city says Gardner will likely have to pay for the demolition of the house.

"So not only did I buy a property with a house on it for $30,000, I am potentially looking at another 7 to 15 thousand for that," he says. "It's now an empty lot, so it's a tough situation."

The city says, despite the owner's claim to have stabilized the property, the inspection showed the work was insufficient and the owner never obtained a permit.

The city says the permit would have shown he was working to solve the problem. Gardner says he was getting his finances in order before getting that permit.

He still believes the city was wrong for demolishing the house and he wants to be compensated for what happened.

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