Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 a.m.
After years of court cases and codes enforcement battles, demolition work has started at the Applewood Apartments in Oak Ridge.
Demolition work started Tuesday at the 13-building apartment complex on Hillside Road and Hunter Circle in the Highland View neighborhood, just north of Oak Ridge Turnpike in central Oak Ridge. Two of the buildings had been knocked down as of Thursday afternoon.
Brady Excavating and Demolition of Crab Orchard, Tennessee, plans to demolish two buildings per week, weather permitting. It could take 2.5 months or so to complete the job. The demolition company is working for First Place Finish of Oak Ridge.
Asbestos abatement work started earlier this month at the vacant buildings.
Oak Ridge Today last reported on the apartment complex in July 2017 after a court case that once called for a $400,000 fine against owner Joseph J. Levitt Jr. was dismissed. It’s one of several legal battles in the past decade that started with alleged code violations at Applewood Apartments and pitted Levitt, a Knoxville attorney, against the City of Oak Ridge. At least some of the buildings had previously been declared unfit for human occupation and use.
At last check, there were still legal cases pending in Anderson County Chancery Court in Clinton.
In various hearings and interviews, Levitt and his employees have said they worked to maintain the decades-old two-story buildings, which have often been referred to as “eyesores,” and to make repairs. Levitt has accused the city of trying to drive poor people out of Oak Ridge. Some tenants have defended the apartments, saying rent was cheaper there than anywhere else, as low as a few hundred dollars per month. But the city has said they were simply trying to enforce existing building and property codes at Applewood Apartments, and the property needed to be repaired and maintained.
The last Applewood Apartments tenant moved out in October 2016. At that time, Levitt said he was 85 and had health problems, and he was trying to clean up his estate. Most of his estate will probably go to the University of Tennessee and nonprofit organizations, Levitt said then. It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday night if that is still the plan, if UT wants the property, and if so, what it might do with it. As of Thursday night, the properties appeared to be still owned by Levitt, according to a quick review of state real estate assessment records available online.
See previous Applewood Apartments stories here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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