City leaders evaluating future of rundown South Broadway apartments

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita city councilman James Clendenin responded to a concerned citizen living next to a rundown set of apartments on Friday morning.

He says what he saw, shocked him.

“Bulky waste everywhere. Unsecured buildings. Deteriorating conditions. No water in some of the apartments. Some of the apartments had electrical cords running to them for power. There was just a myriad of things that need to be addressed,” councilman Clendenin said.

Vicki Thompson lives next door to the Elms Kitchenette Apartments on South Broadway and sounded the alarm to Clendenin.

“Shootings, fist fights, stabbings, drugs, they’ve trespassed on everyone’s property. Anyway, I am sick of it,” Thompson said.

Clendenin says a report was filed with the city in July and the owner is nearing the end of the voluntary compliance period before the city can intervene.

Intervention could include condemnation.

An emergency meeting was called Friday morning between Clendenin, Wichita Police Department chief Gordon Ramsay, Wichita Fire Department Chief Tammy Snow, City Manager Robert Layton and a code enforcement officer.

Clendenin says a task force has been called to address the problems at the Elms.

“Nobody should have to live in the conditions I saw today. It’s extremely unfortunate, so we’re taking steps to make sure that is corrected,” Clendenin said.

The owner and manager of the complex, Dale Blubaugh, told KSN by phone that he is aware the maintenance for the apartments has gotten away from him. He says the recent heat has not been kind to his energy, and he does plan to mitigate the issues.

UPDATE September 9, 2019:

Because the notice of violation was brought forth by a neighbor and not a tenant, city officials must focus their efforts on the exteriors of the homes at the Elms Kitchenette Apartments.

“There are currently nuisance cases open on that property for primarily the external conditions, the junk, the debris and the yards and those have been in place since the first part of August,” KaLyn Nethercot, neighborhood inspection administrator for the city and county said.

Landlord Dale Blubaugh said he is aware it is toward the end of the voluntary compliance period and has ordered an extra trash pick-up date for the apartments so tenants can get rid of some of their trash.

“Our goal is to have the property owners bring the properties into compliance always. We always give them the chance to do that,” Nethercot said.

According to Chris Labrum, director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, this is not the first time nuisance violations have stemmed from the Elms Kitchenette Apartments.

“They have brought the property into compliance at the end of the process in each case and been able to plead, if you will, and have it closed in court,” Labrum said.

Labrum has been on site at the property and has concerns about the bulky waste and what that amount of waste could be harboring. He also notes illegal buildings being used for storage and non-outdoor furniture on the outside of the property.

If you or someone you know is living in uninhabitable conditions, visit: https://www.kansaslegalservices.org/ for resources.

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