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Return to the Bluff: Not "forgotten" any longer

6:35 AM, Dec 19, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- It's been a little over a month since we ran our series documenting the blight and crime in the Bluff, a section of the English Avenue community, not far from Downtown Atlanta, Vine City and the Georgia Dome.

Making good on a promise we made back then, we went back to the area to check up on the progress. And in just that short amount of time, we're happy to report that there have been changes for the better.

With more than half of them empty or abandoned, the dilapidated houses in this community are a crime. Literally.

That's one reason why the city created a new registry to catalogue the blight and to force owners to fix them up or tear them down.

"At the end of the day, we will have no mercy on vacant and abandoned properties," said Atlanta city councilman Ivory Young Jr. "They have served as a blight. In the coming months, you will hear about efforts to step up code enforcement; you'll see increased police presence. But police and code enforcement by themselves a safe neighborhood make."

Councilman Young said a new redevelopment initiative in the area is expected to bring two signature parks, a Walmart, home and business renovations, an ambassador program, and, most importantly, jobs into the English Avenue-Vine City corridor.

And potential investors from Atlanta all the way to England are keeping a close eye on the progress.

"Arthur Blank, the Falcons organization and the consequences of an open-air stadium, the Prince of Wales, Truett Cathy and Chick-fil-A... all these folks are interested in making a long-term investment in neighborhoods like English Avenue and Vine City," Young said. 

But Young said there needs to be more bang for the buck before anyone invests even a dime here. And the city will aggressively try to give more families an incentive to come back to the empty houses.

"Historically we've benefited from families that have existed in these homes and provided the soft public presence that we've needed to create the livable and safe neighborhood," Young said. 

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