OPA-LOCKA — Hoping to improve its image and spur new interest of economic development investors, the city of Opa-Locka teamed with Miami- Dade County to demolish abandoned structures starting in the Magnolia North area and extending throughout other locations in the community.

After fielding complaints from the residents and official inspections, the Building and Licensing Department drew up a list of the first 10 structures that should be destroyed. Mayor Myra L. Taylor identified other uses for the sites.

“The land will possibly be used for more housing, businesses, resource centers or other significant structures to help build status within the community,” Taylor said.  “The public is eager about the demolitions, and excited to hear plans about the potential land development.”

“However,” she added, “a picture is worth a thousand words, so as we progress beyond the destruction, and begin enriching the area, they will begin to see lots of opportunity and the long-term vision.”

The city said it notified 11 property owners that the sites were declared unsafe under Opa-Locka and county ordinance, and requested they submit plans to bring the buildings up to code.

After having received no response,  the city’s building department forwarded the cases to the county’s Unsafe Structures Board, which set hearings that were advertised in local newspapers. When none of the owners appeared, the county signed off on demolition proceedings.

Esin Daniel Abia, director of the city’s public works and building and license departments, said that before demolitions began, one owner obtained a permit to perform repairs and was removed from the list.

“The structures are not only unsafe, but they are also an eyesore to the community,” said Commissioner Terrence Pinder.  “We have a comprehensive-holistic plan for a mixed-use development, which will bring the area to life.”

Opa-locka Police Chief Jeffery Key predicted the demolitions wll help reduce crime.

“Removing these buildings will eliminate squatter crack dens, where crimes are committed and burglars with stolen property can often be found,” Key said, adding that “badly-inhabited sites lower the property value of many nice neighborhoods.”