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Abandoned buildings causing problems for Jacobsville

Sunday morning, Evansville firefighters found a man's body while putting out a fire they believe was arson at an abandoned apartment building on Read Street.
 
Evansville Police tell Eyewitness News’ Amelia Young that where the fire happened, known as Jacobsville, is their busiest beat.
 
It has continual police presence and a federally funded grant providing more manpower, but many want more improvements.
 
"I don't even want my grandkids in the neighborhood," said shop owner Dustin Chambers.
 
Problems continue to rise in the Jacobsville area surrounding abandoned buildings.
 
“It's hard to be comfortable thinking this terrible abandoned house next door could catch fire any minute,” said Evansville Department of Metropolitan Development executive director Kelley Coures.
 
“Ten percent of all fires occur in vacant and abandoned buildings just squatters going in there trying to set up housekeeping,” said Coures.
 
Neighbors say they continue to see homeless people come in and out of the abandoned buildings, especially the one that just caught on fire.
 
Award Winning Oil Change and Auto Repair is on the same block, Chambers is the owner.
 
“I've been here on this property since 2009 I would like to continue to be here at this property,” said Chambers who has had numerous problems, the biggest happening in 2012.
 
A homeless man broke into and was living in one of Chambers’ cars.
 
“I came in late at night and chased him away from the building. He screamed out he was going to burn my building down.”
 
Two weeks later, the shop caught fire.
 
From break-ins to theft, Chambers' believes the abandoned buildings are partly to blame.
 
“If we're not gonna follow through and put forth some countermeasures on some of this stuff and up our game we're gonna continue to deal with this problem.”
 
Change is on the way. Apartments just a block from his shop are in their final days.
 
“The building commissioner tells me it should be gone within the next two weeks,” said Coures.
 
Between 2013 to now, the city has worked with the Blight Elimination Program eliminating hundreds of abandoned homes, but it's clear the problem is still far from being resolved.
 
We tried to reach out to the owner of the building that burned, but according to the Better Business Bureau, The Bachman Group Limited is out of business, but the deed is still theirs for now.
 
Coures says Building Commission will eventually demolish the burned building and then it will become an empty lot until ownership changes.
 
(This article was originally published June 11, 2018)
 


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