KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis officials are seeking to demolish several buildings in the city's Carver Neighborhood.
City officials say the properties in the historically black neighborhood are a hazard to the community. Structures that were once businesses and homes continue to deteriorate and are a haven for crime.
Residents are hopeful the changes will bring new life to the community.
"It was great, there were older families living here that had been here for years, and it was well entrenched with history," said Kannapolis resident Tony Saunders.
Saunders remembers Carver as it was when he moved here 30 years ago. But he said the neighborhood has spiraled so far downward he's been a victim himself.
"They stomped me right there by that tree, kicked my teeth out, cracked my ribs, hit me in the head," said Saunders.
It was far from the neighboring abandoned building. He said he believes the city's plan to demolish it and other properties like it will help reduce crime here.
"We're trying to help them stabilize the neighborhood," said City Planning Director Kris Krider.
Krider said it is likely seven properties in the area will be demolished by the end of the year, approved by the state historic preservation office.
"They reviewed the list and they approved, at least from their standpoint, that while these may have been of historical value at some time they were so far gone that they were not able to be saved," said Krider.
Each property has been vacant, vandalized and neglected for years. A church on East C Street has not been maintained in 20 years, becoming a hazard not far from where children play at Kannapolis Intermediate School.
"The problem is, if you don't take care of it, the problem will spread," said Krider.
Krider said getting rid of the buildings will not only maintain property values here, but spur new economic development. For residents it is a chance to see the neighborhood prosper again.
"I'd definitely like to see it prosper again this is my wife, this her home, this is where her family originated," said Saunders.
Krider said demolition is set to begin within weeks. Owners of three of the properties were given 60-day extensions.
A $50,000 federal community development block grant will pay for demolition and cleanup costs.