City crews are expected to begin demolition work soon at Midtown Apartments, a 1960s-era public housing complex in Rock Hill that became a trouble spot for crime and urban decay.
The demolition was initially scheduled for today, but work was delayed because crews need more time to complete an environmental cleanup, city officials said.
The 96-unit complex got so bad that city officials decided in November to level the project, three buildings at a time, over the next several months. The site will be left as green space until a possible redevelopment plan takes shape.
One option would be to partner with a private developer to bring new, attractive affordable housing to the 6-acre site, said Ray Koterba, the city's director of housing and neighborhood services.
"If we can push it in that direction, it might be a real shot in the arm for Hagins-Fewell," Koterba said.
Eight of the 12 buildings at Midtown have been vacant for several months, city officials said, and the last tenants moved out recently from the others. Squatters have shown up in some vacant rooms to escape the cold weather, police said.
Crews will walk through each building before demolition starts, said Dawn Byers, an inspections supervisor for the city.
A group associated with the York Baptist Association tried to renovate the apartments as a model for inner-city ministry.
"We were able to help some families and reduce the crime rate for a time," said Mike O'Dell, director of missions for the York Baptist Association.
"It got to a place where the property (decay) was working against us, and there wasn't anything else we could do."
William Gallman, a site manager, said the tenant base suffered from constant churn and occasional problems with troublesome renters.
As demolition work unfolds, the city will place liens on the property to recover costs, officials have said. Demolition crews will start with three vacant buildings and gradually raze the remaining structures three at a time.