MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Downtown Memphis Commission President refers to it as, 'The coolest blight in Memphis,' but the Commission says it's time for change. The South Main Street property, commonly known as the 'Buffalo Mural' is overgrown with trees and bushes. A nuisance order was issued, but all in the name of art.
In the heart of the South Main arts district lies a secret garden. President of the Downtown Memphis Commission, Paul Morris says, "It's a blighted property no doubt, but it's so ugly it's almost pretty."
Patrick Turns lives near the mysterious lot in the 400 block of South Main, "It's almost that creepy little dungeon, you wonder if Jimmy Hoffa's in there," he says.
The lot sits between two South Main condos, its boarded up walls are painted with buffalos. Behind the fence lies an overgrown garden, visible through a small opening in the wood panels, "Everybody pokes their head in there when they walk up and down," Turns says, "I've seen people take pictures in the doorway, I've seen kids walk up and run back."
The big problem Turns describes, are the broken glass bottles, the bugs, and he says, "I can only imagine how many mice live in there, homeless people have camped out."
Morris says despite the beauty of the space, "It's blighted and it's very blighted and the property owner is behind on taxes."
According to Shelby County Trustees the property owner, Todd Day Investment Co., hasn't paid property taxes since 2008. The company owes $2,700. Morris says, the Downtown Commission doesn't want the property caught in legal limbo but wants to get rid of the blight. "We would like to work with the property owner to enhance it and remove some of the dangerous aspects of it and bring it as a true arts project to the neighborhood," Morris says, "We don't want to lose the character of it."
Morris says, it's impossible to improve the property when the property owner won't answer calls or letters. They've tried to contact ownership since April 2011. The nuisance order is the last hope for action before the county gets its hands on it. Morris hopes that opens dialogue with the owner.
Even if it is the coolest blight in Memphis Turns says, "Like the building that fell in on Madison, let's solve the problem or get rid of the problem."
Todd Day Investments was not able to be reached for comment. The property is scheduled for County tax sale in March 2013.
The owners are due in court to address the nuisance order on September 27.