CY eyesore meets demolition crew

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2219 Young

By Liz Royer

It took just a few hours and some heavy equipment to erase an eyesore that had frustrated Cooper-Young neighbors for years.

A dilapidated two-story building at the corner of Young Avenue and Cox Street was demolished by city contractors June 30th after several years of efforts by the Cooper-Young Community Association and the county’s environmental court.

Neighbors gathered on the sidewalk to take cellphone videos, offer congratulations, and thank the demolition crew as equipment chewed through the walls and the rubble was trucked away.

“We are excited to see this day finally come,” said Robbyn Abedi, who bought his Cox Street home with the hope that the building next door eventually would be demolished.

Plans to sell or renovate 2219 Young were complicated by environmental issues from underground petroleum tanks buried in the backyard. Though the tanks had been removed, potential contamination meant the property had to be cleared for more testing.

Mike Larrivee, an environmental scientist and CYCA board member, explained that the state’s abandoned facility fund will manage the site and look for contamination in the soil and groundwater.

“Depending on what they find the case could be closed, or it could be in remediation for years,” he said.

Remediation could mean removing soil, or extracting and purifying groundwater, he said.

The building once housed a contractor’s office and an apartment but had been unoccupied except for storage since sometime in the 1990s, longtime neighbors recalled. After previous owner James Summerall died, the building passed to his estate.

In recent years, the building attracted attention for peeling paint, weeds, holes in its roof, and a rooftop air conditioning unit that loomed over Abedi’s house.

Code inspectors began issuing violations in 2012 following complaints from neighbors and Mayor A C Wharton even promised action after a story in The LampLighter in 2013.

After several attempts to sell the property and renovate it fell through, Judge Larry Potter finally put the property into receivership by the city, which executed the demolition.

Do you have a blighted building on your block? For information or help with a code enforcement issue in Cooper-Young, contact the CYCA’s code awareness chairwoman Liz Royer at

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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