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CHICAGO - Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the Department of Buildings is demolishing the 100th dangerous building as part of the recently announced initiative to identify, secure and/or demolish vacant and hazardous buildings in an effort to stop gangs from using these structures as gathering places and centers for illegal activity. The vacant building at 5633 S. Laflin will be demolished under this initiative and one of dozens demolished in the Englewood community in the 7th police district that potentially could serve as havens for crime.
This initiative, announced in early July, is a coordinated, focused effort between the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Buildings to reduce the number of vacant buildings that serve as hubs for violence and hives of gang activity.
“Since early July, the Police and Buildings Departments have worked together to reduce the number vacant and hazardous properties that present a danger to some of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By demolishing these buildings, we are preventing them from serving as hubs of illegal activity and eliminating a blight on our communities.”
As part of this initiative, the Department of Buildings and the Police Department determine which buildings to demolish after prioritizing structures that have received calls for service or have been neglected and unsecured, making those obvious candidates to be used for illegal activities.
The Department of Buildings has already dedicated an estimated $1.6 million of $4 million to demolish or board-up and secure these vacant buildings that are on CPD watch lists because they are sites where known gang members and criminals are repeatedly found. The Department of Buildings is also boarding up and securing properties that are known gang havens but are structurally sound and can be eventually put to good use, determined through increased coordination between the Department of Buildings and the CPD.
The initial focus of this plan was in the 7th, 11th, 3rd, 8th, and 10th police districts and was later modified to include the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 15th districts.
The vacant building crackdown is complemented by the City’s recent crackdown on liquor stores and convenience stores that have been used by gangs as hangouts and centers for illegal activity.
In the months since the Mayor first announced his focus on forcing problem liquor stores and other businesses to take action to reduce crime in neighborhoods, the City is in the process of revoking the licenses of three businesses and has temporarily closed 21 problem businesses for failure to address a variety of safety concerns. Areas surrounding these problem businesses accounted for nearly 5,000 calls for service from the Chicago Police Department over the past three months. As part of the crackdown on problem businesses, a task force made up of various departments including Police, Fire, Buildings, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and Streets and Sanitation inspect businesses for compliance.
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