Officials at City Hall leaped into action last week. City inspectors found "a number of violations," says Bill Farrar, the city's chief spokesman, including inoperable cars and the property's use as a dumping ground on land that is zoned residential. Landowners typically have 48 hours to correct the problem, says Farrar, but often inspectors are "flexible." A notice detailing the citations was sent to the property owner late last week.
The Loupassis say it's the first they've heard of the problem. The property is managed by Pollard & Bagby, which also first learned of the issue last week.
"I will take care of my situation one way or another," says Manuel Loupassi. He met with one of the tenants Friday morning and warned him that the lot needed to be cleaned up immediately or else.
The tenant, Joe Gusti, owner of Gusti Equipment Co. in the 2900 block of West Broad Street, says he didn't realize he was violating anything. He uses the area behind his business to temporarily store used restaurant equipment that he purchases from recently shuttered restaurants. He's done so for years.
"It's the first I've heard of it, and I've been here twenty years," says Gusti, who promised to have a crew clean up the lot earlier this week. Gusti says the equipment he stores in the lot turns over weekly as new merchandise comes in.
The adjacent lot is a makeshift auto-repair graveyard also owned by the Loupassi family. Milton Edwards, owner of Edwards Auto Care Inc. in the 2900 block of West Broad Street, says he's used the lot on Grace Street for 25 years and has never heard any complaints from the city, the landowner or nearby residents.
Councilman Loupassi, an attorney whose practice concentrates on commercial real estate, says his family can do nothing until city officials send them written notice of the violation.
But he says the tenant will have it taken care of. "They either get it straight or they get kicked out," he says. Scott Bass
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