City plans to develop Whitehaven 'eyesore'

City plans to develop Whitehaven 'eyesore'
The old flea market area in Whitehaven will be sold and redeveloped
The old flea market area in Whitehaven will be sold and redeveloped

(WMC-TV) - The old flea market at South 3rd Street and Raines Road was an eyesore and a backdrop for crime before a federal raid in June.

The raid stopped the crime and now, city officials have plans to change the area's reputation.

"And this was for a long time a place that, ah, community knew you could come and get counterfeit items on this property," said U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton, III.

Wednesday morning, several agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney's Office, and Mayor AC Wharton announced the owner of the property pleaded guilty and forfeited the land.

"He just said I'm through fighting it, take the property," said Mayor Wharton.

The owner's forfeiture clears the way for the federal government to sell the property to someone who will develop it. People who live in the area are ecstatic.

"Well I'm so glad to see it go down, it is now because it's a eyesore and every time I pass by its very disturbing," said Peggy Robinson.

At the news conference, Mayor Wharton said city crews will clean up the area and keep it clean while federal officials look for a buyer.

He said whoever buys it will build something in its place that will be positive for the community. The new development could end up being a mall, bowling alley, or a factory. But Mayor Wharton said there is one thing it will not be.

"Well as long as I'm mayor it won't be a flea market," Mayor Wharton laughed. "That's one thing it's not, it's not going to be. Beyond that we are open to anything."

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.