Officials shut down Memphis condo overrun by drug dealers, squatters

By Andrew Douglas - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Officials took action Monday to secure a large group of condominiums they said were becoming overrun with drug dealers.

The District Attorney's Office filed the nuisance action against owners of the Wooddale Condominiums, located at 4876 Winchester Road, after numerous complaints from citizens about crimes and environmental and health concerns on the property.  

"The drug dealers, the prostitution, the robberies, all that are taking place because of this," Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said.

Residents at the complex said many squatters were living within its abandoned units.

"I know people that lived up in here illegitimately with electricity and everything. Furnished. Like they was paying the rent," resident Calinda Shannon said.

Shannon is among the 10 percent of residents of the complex that live there legally. Those people are allowed to stay, and despite the atmosphere, Shannon doesn't want to go anywhere.

"I love my apartment," Shannon said. "That's why I'm still here. I love my apartment."

But residents wondered what will become of the complex.

"We're not going to simply board them up and then walk off," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said. "You're going to see other efforts directed at huge complexes like this."

The challenge will be keeping the complex secure.

"I know we're going to run into a problem of vandalism, and people trying to come in and take the boards off the windows and doors and so forth, but we're just going to have to keep at it," Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said.

But some argue that even trying is a waste of time.

"They were all boarded up at one time, and they just tear 'em down and go in there," Shannon said.

The condos sit within one mile of Wooddale Middle School and Cromwell Elementary School.

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