'Crime-ridden' apartments ordered torn down

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After a court battle to get the owners of what officials call a "crime ridden" apartment complex cleaned up, a judge with the city of Atlanta ordered the Sierra Ridge apartments demolished in 90 days.

In court records, officials with City Hall and Atlanta Police referred to the 28 apartment buildings off Delmar Lane NW as "unfit for human habitation" and a "haven for excessive criminal activity." The demolition order was issued April 23 by Honorable Christopher T. Portis of the Municipal Court of Atlanta.

Police said in court documents, from December 2016 to July 2017, 424 code violations resulted in 270 citations for issues related to building structures, trash and fire hazards.

In a span of 936 days, police said people filed 238 incident reports related to criminal activity, which on average would result in four police reports per unit; police responded to the apartments for matters generally three times a day.

Residents got word they must leave the property within the 90 days.

“This is a huge victory not only for APD, but for the City of Atlanta and anyone who lives in or near one of these neglected properties,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields in a statement to FOX 5 News. “We know that these properties are, indeed, a haven for crime and we applaud Judge Portis recognizing that the only real option here was to order the demolition of this property. We hope other irresponsible property owners will take notice and work to provide clean, respectable housing for its residents,” Shields said.

"I hope they help us... I'll be homeless with my grandchildren," said concerned tenant Bernardine Johnson, who said five grandchildren live with her at her apartment and hopes the city will help the residents on fixed incomes find alternative housing.

City officials said the Office of Constituent Services will help the remaining residents, which number more than 50, get the appropriate resources.

"I'll be glad... all that crime down there needs to stop," said nearby homeowner James Farmer, who said residents are fearful of the gun violence and often duck from gun battles spilling over into the streets from the complex. "[Crime] has increased real bad," he said, also showing us how nearby gunfire has damaged his windows.

Calls to the new apartment manager were not returned by Tuesday night. FOX 5 also learned that the complex ended the relationship with its previous attorneys on April 23, the date of the demolition order, and FOX 5 News did not get a response for a request for comment from the new legal counsel.