Jacksonville celebrates 100th demolition with ceremony, excavator

Demolition Program aims to revitalize city through removal of slum, blight

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As part of its Clean and Green Jacksonville and downtown revitalization campaign, the City of Jacksonville has demolished its 100th building.

It’s all part of a joint effort to clear the downtown area of slum and blight, new homes replacing unsafe structures which were once falling apart.

Wednesday’s short ceremony targeted the 99th and 100th structures at 121 Poplar Street.

“When we do the demolitions, it means that we’re making a better neighborhood for the community and we try to replace the demolitions with affordable housing,” Councilman Jerome Willingham said.

Since 2010, abandoned or neglected and deemed unsafe commercial and residential structures have been cleared away by the city’s Voluntary Demolition and Clearance Program to pave the way for rehabilitation and renewal of the downtown area and other parts of Jacksonville.

Rebuilding the neighborhood is not only improving Jacksonville’s economic tax base, it’s also reducing crime.

“We used to spend a lot of time in this neighborhood because of shootings, stabbings, we even had an open air drug market here at one time,” Chief Michael Yaniero, Jacksonville Police Department, said. “All of those things are gone now. This is a nice neighborhood.”

A wreath presentation took place for two new homeowners in the area immediately following the demolition ceremony. Patrice Briscoe is one of them. She said it’s always been her dream to own her own home.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotions,” Briscoe said. “I couldn’t believe I was able to have a home be built from the ground up and that it was all mine.”

Through the program, the cost of the downtown lot is forgiven as long as the home is occupied by the owner for at least ten years.

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