ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s hard not to think of the International District’s old moniker – the War Zone – when setting foot on the property at 132 Wisconsin NE.
Walking must be done with care, as the ground is littered with used syringes.
There are holes where windows once were, and the walls are covered with graffiti and nearly pulled apart in places, probably for looters to get at appliances or metal wiring.
The residence is one of two that sit on the property, and both are being demolished by the city after dozens of calls for service there and the property owner’s inaction in improving the condition of the buildings.
“There’s a whole legal process that this property has been through,” Mayor Tim Keller said before taking a ceremonial whack at a wall with a sledgehammer. “It has, unfortunately, earned the right to be bulldozed.”
Keller said it’s one of 15 residential properties being considered for demolition.
A month ago, the equally dilapidated house next door was also demolished.
The mayor said his administration and the City Council have recently put more focus – and resources – into the problem of substandard and vacant structures.
Earlier this year, the city started a pilot project aimed at streamlining the handling of dilapidated commercial buildings.
Federico Martinez, who has lived next door to the property for 10 years, said the police are constantly being called to the area, largely because of drugs.
“At night, there are many bad people,” he said in Spanish. “We’re scared.”
But he said he was pleased the property was finally being torn down.
“Things will calm down now,” he said.