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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington’s new convention center has a not-so-pretty next door neighbor. For months, a couple of abandoned warehouses across the street have sat in ruins. Now the City of Wilmington has decided to take on the clean-up.

“Parts of the walls are gone. We’ve had vagrants living in it at times, and it’s just unsafe,” City Councilman Ronald Sparks said. “We don’t want any parts of that building falling on somebody, so we’re going to tear it down.”

After months of unsuccessful attempts to get the owner of the building to tear it down, the city has decided to knock it down itself.

Sparks said he’s not happy the city has to foot the bill, including testing for asbestos before tearing it down.

“My opposition was not in tearing it down,” he said. “It was that this particular owner should have torn it down. We’re not dealing with some poor person that’s unable to maintain their property. This is an LLC, a company, that was set up to do some development, and this building was in this development site the whole time.”

Sparks feels the owner of the building is using the city. He said the building used to be a valuable shipping company. When it changed hands, the new owners decided to demolish it, but only got halfway. Sparks thinks the company should have made demolition a priority and finished the job without bringing the city into it.

“You’ve got life safety risks of things on this building collapsing onto people, then you got the eye sore value of us looking at that raggedy thing every time you have a convention,” Sparks said.

Sparks said tax dollars will pay for the upfront costs, but he says tax payers will get the money back, because the city has filed a lien against the property.

There is no timeline yet on when the asbestos testing and demolition will take place.

We tried to get in touch with Chuck Schoninger, the owner of the property. He has not returned our calls.

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