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Atlanta councilman proposes city’s largest code enforcement demolitions ever

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Dustin Hillis has pitched legislation to level more than 70 blighted apartments in District 9

District 9 Councilmember Dustin Hillis is pictured using an app called SeeClickFix to submit code enforcement issues to the city.
Greenhorn Councilman Dustin Hillis: no fan of blight.
City of Atlanta

Freshly installed Atlanta City Councilman Dustin Hillis can’t stand blight.

Before he was elected to the council in November, he’d been working with Council President Felicia Moore—back when she was merely a councilwoman—to help rid Atlanta of boarded-up and broken buildings.

On Monday, Hillis’s aversion to such residential eyesores in his District 9 and beyond bore legislative fruit that could lead to the largest-ever code enforcement demolition project in Atlanta history, the councilman announced.

Should his proposal clear a council vote, more than 70 dilapidated and vacant apartments would be leveled along Bolton Road, in the Bankhead/Bolton neighborhood right outside the westernmost part of the Interstate 285 perimeter.

“It’s been in this condition for over a decade,” Hillis told Curbed Atlanta.

To put the state of this area in perspective, one of the Bolton Road buildings caught fire in March, and the closest fire hydrants were found to be out of order. “They had to drag over half a mile of fire hose all the way up Bolton, across Donald Lee Hollowell [Parkway], because the first three fire hydrants were not working,” Hillis said.

City resources well spent? Probably not.

The ordinance would authorize Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to contract out the demolition project, which could cost up to $800,000.

About $500,000 of that could come from the feds, by way of a Community Development Block Grant approved in 2017. The other $300,000 would come from Atlanta’s general fund, according to the legislation.

A screengrab from Google’s street view of Bolton Road.
Buildings like this, at 940 Bolton Road, can drag neighborhoods down.
Google Maps

At-large council representatives Michael Julian Bond, Andre Dickens, and Matt Westmoreland have said they understand the need for the ordinance proposal, Hillis said. He also said Councilwomen Andrea Boone and Joyce Sheperd have voiced support, too.

Hillis said he expects this legislation to travel through committee discussions for the next week or so, and should be voted on during the June 4 full council meeting.