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Demolition underway at Oaktree Apartments

Posted at 1:05 PM, Oct 30, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — It's been an eyesore since its last residents were evicted five years ago. Now, an apartment complex best known for criminal activity is coming down.

On Wednesday, after years of efforts to get rid of them, the wrecking ball was finally let loose on the Oaktree Apartments near 42nd Street and Post Road. The 19-acre property has been vacant due to a court order sine 2014, and a judge issued an order to tear it down last year.

The City-County Council finally approved funding to tear down the complex in April.

Fire, crime, vandalism and a tornado turned the Oaktree Apartments into something very different from what they were when Samantha Douglas' parents lived there.

"To kind of see it get to this point before we went ahead and got rid of it was kind of crazy," Douglas said.

Douglas and others from the neighborhood describe a very different scene years ago.

"They were beautiful," City-County Councilor La Keisha Jackson said. "Had a nice swimming pool, greenery. The structure was very nice, but to see them come to this point as you look around, you wouldn't believe it."

Jackson said she has watched the property go downhill for the past 15 years. Police describe it as a breeding ground for crime, putting people who live and work in the area at risk. In 2009, a woman's body was found inside an empty apartment at the complex, while in 2012, a man was discovered there with gunshot wounds and died soon after.

In March this year, fire investigators said someone intentionally lit two fires at the apartments.

"To have to walk past this area and know what it is inside, it's scary and just not safe at all," IMPD officer Simone Willis said.

The property was declared a public nuisance in 2013, and in 2014, the final residents were evicted due to a lack of running water.

"It's owners didn't really care for it or the people in it," Douglas said.

But now there is a new-found sense of hope. People who live in the area said they are excited about what could be next for the land.

"I'd love to see mixed-use properties, even new residential properties," Douglas said. "We don't have any sit-down restaurants in this district, so all those kinds of things."

Local leaders said they plan to hold town hall-style meetings in the coming weeks to learn more about what the community's vision for the former apartment complex's property.