October 30, 2002
By BRENNAN ROBISON
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A notorious North Knoxville apartment building has been condemned.
After a fatal stabbing a week ago at the 5th Avenue Motel, city officials descended on the property Wednesday morning to search for code violations.
It was the first inspection in four years and everything from a disabled fire alarm system to plumbing and electrical problems was identified.
With water dripping from a shower upstairs, the 5th Avenue Motel isn't Vesta Haufe's dream home. But she needs to buy a new car to transport her two sons. So, the rent of less than $100 a week is just right. "It's a nice place," she says. "I mean, there are a few things wrong with it."
With an active case of tuberculosis on one floor, codes inspectors recommended that 6 News wear gloves and masks, just to be inside.
Manager Dot Sherwood says code violations from the last inspection were fixed four years ago. And while vagrants and drug dealers congregate outside the motel, law enforcement and the in-house security staff try to keep them from coming in.
The city will decide in the next two weeks whether to seal the property and kick out the nearly 100 residents.
Steve Roberts, with the city Department of Public Service, says, "There's something we have to balance here with regard to public health and safety, as well as what the rights of these people are."
Sherwood says closing down would be a shame. "Most of these people work labor work. They just get minimum wage. Where are they going to find a place as cheap as this? They can't."
The owner has 15 days to fix the fire alarm system. The city will meet with him this week to plan repairs or demolition.
The Knoxville Community Development Corporation plans to help residents find new homes if they have to leave.