City to demolish 100th vacant building in effort to fight crime in Chicago

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The building torn down on Tuesday was located at 6447 South Honore Street in the West Englewood neighborhood. (WLS)

Chicago tore down its 100th abandoned building Tuesday as part of a crime-fighting city program that fast-tracks buildings that are deemed dangerous.

"(criminals) congregate in places like this one and that is why this is being demolished today," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

The abandoned buildings provide a safe haven for gang members and other criminals responsible for most of the city's violence, city officials said. Buildings that qualify for the program, which started in February, are typically in a location on a block with documented criminal activity and falling apart with no owner.

The building tore down on Tuesday was located at 6447 South Honore Street in the West Englewood neighborhood.

While demolishing empty buildings is nothing new, the city said the way they target certain buildings is different.

"This is the first time the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Buildings Department speak on a daily basis and talk where crime is happening, where vacant buildings are and have a targeted focus approach on how we are doing it," said Judy Frydland, the buildings department commissioner.

However, not everyone thinks tearing down boarded-up homes is a good idea. In fact, some neighbors worry that empty lots will attract more crime.

"I feel if police can't stop crime, tearing down abandoned buildings is not going to stop crime," said Brittany Henderson, an Englewood resident.

Some community members have other ways to improve the neighborhood.

A group called "I Grow," in the Englewood neighborhood, rehabs boarded-up buildings to use for mentoring programs and turns empty lots into urban gardens.

"You can only deter crime doing what we do and that is transforming the community homes too," said Shango Johnson, of "I Grow."

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demolitionvacant buildingChicago - West Englewood
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