The District Attorney has dropped a nuisance case against a South Memphis apartment complex because of the new owner's efforts to create positive change.
It's something the D.A. said he can't remember having done before.
The new owner said he's been buying and cleaning up apartment complexes for 10 years. He owns 8 throughout the US. He said he's appalled by slumlords lining their own pockets and wants the city to pass ordinances to come down harder on them.
Shootings, stabbings and drug dealings- last year, District Attorney General Bill Gibbons filed a nuisance action against the Warren Apartments on Clementine, citing a clear pattern of illegal activity.
Now, he's dropped the case.
"I think it's a real success story in our city," Gibbons said.
The apartment complex, on Elvis Presley and I-240 was bought, in May, by James Carmichael. The new owner didn't want to go on camera but told us he redevelops the properties or gets them in the position where he can sell them to someone who will redevelop them.
He said that means, making sure the buildings are secure, tenants safe and drug residents evicted.
Gibbons said the new owner has worked with him and Memphis police to make changes that have dramatically reduced crime.
"I think most important thing he did is hire off duty police officers to serve as security," said Gibbons. "For evening hours, he also put up fencing around the complex and instituted a curfew."
Starting at 5pm the new owner has security at the entrance to the apartments, there are tougher screening criteria for potential tenants. The district attorney said because the crime has gone down, there is now a waiting list to live here.
The new owner has 21 off-duty Memphis police officers working for him. So far, he's evicted 50 apartments in the Warren complex. Residents say security has been tough on them.
Jerome Sanders doesn't like it. He said the security asks things like; "who do I visit here, what's the persons name, how old am I, what was I locked up for in jail, pull my pants up, everything."
The new owner said weeding out extreme crime takes extreme measures which may mean inconveniencing some people. The approach seems to be working.
He said last September; police were called to the complex 22 times.
In the last month (Aug 15-Sept 15), they've been called just 8 times.
"The culture of this neighborhood has changed and so now people care about how it looks, people are concerned if a crime occurs and works with management to make sure it's addressed," Gibbons said.
The new owner admits there are still security improvements to be made at the Warren Apartments, but said they're now focusing on physical change.
Gibbons said he already sees change in the residents.
"There is now a pride among tenants that did not exist a year ago," Gibbons said.
The new owner said he'd like to see a city wide ordinance, forcing Section 8 property owners to pay for off-duty police officers to patrol the complexes.
He's now turning attention to Tulane apartments which he acquired at the same time as the Warren apartments.