One of Whiteville’s most notorious havens for crime, especially drug sales, will soon be a parking lot.
After a year’s worth of work in the courts, demolition crews levelled the home at 205 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Whiteville Wednesday. A contractor knocked down the home with an excavator in a matter of minutes, and the debris was hauled to the county landfill for disposal. The now-vacant lot faces Central Middle School.
The series of court actions leading to the demolition meant the property now belongs to the school system.
Superintendent Marc Whichard said plans are to use the property to provide more parking for the school.
Whiteville Police Chief Doug Ipock, the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement division, and the District Attorney’s office began focusing on the former boarding house last year, City Manager Darren Currie said.
“The Chief and DA Jon David worked hard to accomplish this,” Currie said.
Ipock said it took around a year to complete the process.
By pursuing a nuisance order against properties that act as centers for illegal activities, local governments can seize buildings and land, which are then typically turned over to the school system. Sheriff Jody Greene worked with ALE and the DA’s office earlier this year to eliminate a similar property on Dessie Road near Chadbourn, where several murders and multiple drug crimes occurred. That land became the property of the county schools.
The 70-year-old structure at 205 MLK had served a number of purposes through the years. Most recently, the building with its faded pink exterior was a boarding house. It had also been a family residence.
The property was the scene of multiple reports of narcotics deals for decades, with parents complaining to the school system and police about drug activity. In some cases, alleged deals took place while parents were waiting in line to drop off or pick up children.
When a series of shootings plagued the west side on April 9, 2013, Dixie Youth baseball teams were on Optimist Field at the school. Parents and players ran for cover as shots rang out in several nearby locations, with at least one suspect reportedly hiding in or near 205 MLK. Most of the gunfire occurred elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Calls about shots fired have been reported in the area for years.
Officials said the demolition is just one more step toward lowering crime on the west side.
“I think it was a great day in Whiteville to take out a nuisance like this,” Currie said. “It helps clean up our city and lets folks know that the city hears their complaints.”