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Del City looking to clean up ‘dilapidated’ properties

By Lea Terry
Midwest City Beacon

As Del City looks for ways to revitalize its neighborhoods, the city council last week considered the fate of three long vacant buildings: 715 S. Sunnylane Rd., 4640 SE 15 St. and 5519 SE 15 St. All three have had multiple code violations and numerous police and fire department calls over the years. For council members, eliminating these eyesores was a top priority.

“It’s been a blight for a long time; the time has passed for there to be a plan,” Mayor Floyd Eason said of 715 S. Sunnylane Rd. “I don’t see it being salvageable.”

The property has housed several businesses over the years, including a gas station and an automotive repair shop, and Eason pointed out it’s unknown if the building may contain asbestos or other hazards. While owner Santhosh Kumar has tried several times during the 16 years he’s owned the building to bring it up to code and turn it into a viable business, council members felt the only realistic option was to proceed with demolition.

“It’s not something we can allow to linger,” Eason said.

Kumar pointed out that the pandemic made it difficult to obtain materials, but that he’s addressed every code violation. While he asked for more time to formulate a plan for the structure, the council determined demolition was in the best interest of the city.

Also on the agenda was 4640 SE 15 St., most recently home to Abuelita’s Mexican Restaurant. With its location right off the highway, it’s a prominent feature when entering the city. Since it’s been empty, it has been broken into as well as looted and stripped of wiring and other materials.

Owner Mahmood Cohan said he is actively looking for another tenant. Ward 1 Councilman Michael Dean asked if the building had had utilities on for the eight years it’s been vacant, pointing out that during that time there may have been additional damage such as frozen pipes. Mayor Eason proposed enlisting an engineer to inspect the property and ensure it’s structurally sound, followed by the owner putting together a plan for the structure. The council decided to table the matter for 30 days and will revisit the issue at the meeting on November 20.

The final property, at 5519 SE 15 St., was formerly a pawn shop and has also been broken into multiple times. Realtor Ray Wulf, representing the current owner, said they have a prospective buyer, but the deal is confidential so he could not provide details on any definite plans for the structure. He also pointed out the owner couldn’t demolish the property without jeopardizing the deal. The potential buyers are still doing feasibility assessments, which Dean didn’t feel was enough to warrant offering a considerable amount of additional time.

“If it’s only in the feasibility phase, it’s not a contract,” Dean said. “We know sometimes someone throws out an offer to try to tie something down for a while.”

However, as with the previous property, the council moved to table the issue for 30 days and revisit it on November 20.

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