Action needed soon on empty complex

County officials understandably want to minimize the costs to taxpayers of an abandoned apartment complex along 32 Road. And, to that end, they hope that prospective buyers will purchase the empty Southridge Condominiums and cover the costs of repairing or removing the 1970s-era buildings.

We don’t want to see the county spend money unnecessarily. But neighbors who have seen nothing happen with the Southridge buildings in more than eight months have good reason to wonder when somebody will clean up the complex that is both an eyesore and a safety hazard.

A fire on Feb. 18 damaged part of one building at the Southridge complex. But even before that fire, Mesa County had condemned half the units and was preparing to condemn the others.

Owners Russ and Chad Olson had essentially abandoned the building prior to the condemnation. Russ said he and his son didn’t have enough money to make necessary repairs. He also said he was frightened of some of the people living at the complex.

But Mesa County has taken no punitive action against the Olsons, even though they are in violation of county-adopted codes because they haven’t repaired or torn down the buildings. And the county spent $4,000 to hire people to board up the building.

Demolishing the buildings could cost the county as much as $100,000, with little likelihood the county could recoup that much money with the eventual sale of the property.

Furthermore, county officials hope that a possible sale of the property will take place with a Denver group that has vowed to restore and clean up the complex.

We certainly hope that sale does take place and private property owners can assume the costs of restoring the property.

But if that doesn’t happen, the Mesa County commissioners must be ready to act on the Southridge Condominiums.

The cost to the taxpayers of taking action — such as demolishing the buildings — must be weighed against the health and safety needs of county residents living near the dilapidated complex. Children have reportedly been playing in the unsafe structure, and adults may have broken in to some of the units, as well. There is also the potential deterioration of an entire neighborhood if nothing is done.


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