Abandoned Northwest Fresno neighborhood attracts crime

September 13, 2013 4:47:41 PM PDT
Police say an abandoned subdivision in Northwest Fresno is a magnet for crime. Just behind Island Water Park, tucked behind Contessa and Barstow streets is a hidden subdivision, full of boarded up homes with broken windows and busted doors.

Graffiti, trash and weeds replace landscaping. Even a model home was vandalized, turning the once brand new community into a ghost town, and a criminal's playground that's getting police attention.

"They become a magnet for crime because they draw people into those environments that are involved in criminal activity," Fresno's Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

Northwest Fresno has the most significant share of abandoned homes. The abandoned subdivision in a Northwest Fresno community holds about 60, and realtor Marsha Casanova is working to change their image.

During a tour of one of the homes Casanova said, "This is a great house for a big family, great house."

The homes were built just before the housing market tanked and have sat vacant for the past five years. They have since been left alone and are still owned by the same developer who built them.

"They're either five bedrooms or four bedrooms, three bathrooms," Casanova said.

The challenge has been to get people to buy amongst the vandalism, abandonment and graffiti.

Luckily for realtors the inventory is low, which means after five years there is interest in the homes. In the middle of the subdivision sits a single street, where six houses were in escrow and recently sold, and another six were just placed on the market.

"For the size of the house we got, at the price we got, I have not found a better value and we've been searching for over two years," Drew said.

Drew says he couldn't be happier. He says security guards are patrolling and the subdivision is slowly being cleaned up, or at least slowly taken over by new families looking for a quiet place to call home.