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Abandoned properties get new life to help combat trespassing issues

City leaders in Bristol, Virginia say abandoned buildings are all too common — and with those empty properties, comes an uptick in trespassing and vandalism.

“We have a heavy focus on old structures, which we have plenty of in Bristol,” said Daniel Shew, a local real estate agent.

Some of those historic and older properties are now getting new life in Bristol, Virginia.

Shew, who is a real estate agent in Bristol, is working to flip several homes.

Bristol, Virginia officials say it’s also helping combat a growing issue when it comes to people trespassing in vacant buildings.

“Once buildings sit vacant for so long, they are almost all infiltrated by unhomed people, and every neighborhood in the city, you find instances of that,” said Josh Slagle, property maintenance official, City of Bristol, Virginia. “To see people actually putting them together, making (them) nice again and putting them back on the market is really, a good sign.”

City leaders add when people trespass, it can become a safety issue.

“When people go in, they typically don’t have any regard for people who own it or anything concerning the building as far as the safety of it or anything else, or the neighbors beside of it,” said Slagle. “A lot of times, you’ll see them catch on fire, you’ll see them start to break windows out.”

News 5 asked: What does it mean to see some of these different property owners so committed to fixing up some of these properties?

“It’s good to see people taking initiative to actually come in and fix up properties,” answered Slagle. “Obviously, it reduces the amount of properties that fall into disrepair because they’ve sat vacant for so long. It definitely helps the withering housing stock we see here in the city.”

Daniel Shew — agreeing the restoration helps resolve several issues in the city.

He told News 5 that “flipping” these properties is a passion for him.

“One thing I noticed when I first came to Bristol was the architecture, there’s beautiful architecture here — I’ve been passionate about historic buildings and architecture since I was a teen,” said Shew. “I also love people — so not only does restoring these buildings save them from demolition, but it creates much needed housing for people.”

As for the feedback from the community:

“It’s mostly good feedback, most people are very happy about what we are doing, especially people that have lived in Bristol a long time,” said Shew. “But, there has been a fair share of people that accused us of gentrifying the area, displacing people, and that’s not at all what we are doing. We are taking mostly vacant buildings and renovating them, and making them better.”

Shew adding that there are several more projects in the works.

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