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Tip List: Weeds overtaking empty store

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK
Tall weeds are now growing at the location for the old Circuit City in Merced, Calif. Wednesday, June 17, 2009.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK Tall weeds are now growing at the location for the old Circuit City in Merced, Calif. Wednesday, June 17, 2009. Merced Sun-Star

All that is left now is a vacant parking lot and an empty building.

The once bright signs above the doors have been removed. The doors are locked. A gate bars would-be thieves from entering the once busy business.

Weeds are climbing up the exterior walls of the building, while some just shoot straight up into the air. The whole place looks like a block in some post-apocalyptic future without humans to trim the lawn and cut the weeds.

This site used to be a retail store that sold electronics, known before its demise as Circuit City.

The chain shut its doors in Merced in late 2008. Now the city, already full of empty homes and overgrown yards, is left with one more decaying block.

A local tipster notified Tip List that the property was falling into disrepair. "The area in front of the old Circuit City is a mess," noted the anonymous message received by Tip List. "The weeds are two feet high and dead. This is an awful sight for anyone traveling down R Street."

Tip List sent a team of reporters down to take a look around. The reportorial squad found a sad orphaned building that is quickly becoming an eyesore.

County records show that the property is still owned by Circuit City, even though they are in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. They still owe the county more than $40,000 in property taxes.

Circuit City could not be reached for comment.

Code Enforcement Officers Greg McSwain said the weeds in front are just the beginning.

On April 10, they received a complaint about a broken fire sprinkler system that was leaking water inside the unsecured building. The water department stopped the water flow and secured the building, said McSwain. But since then, he said, code enforcement has made four inspections and sent three notices.

To date, they've yet to receive a reply.

Now, code enforcement is going to the city attorney to force compliance. If their efforts are successful, they may be able to enter the building to clean up the place anytime it is needed.

Since the company has been unreachable, it looks like the city may be left holding the bag.

Remember, Tip List readers, the "King of Blight" contest is open until Sept. 1. Don't be shy -- Tip List welcomes all candidates.

The winner will be presented with a coffee mug emblazoned with a photo of the blight. A mug will also be sent to the owner of the property.

What is wrong: Circuit City's abandoned building is going to seed.

Who is at fault: Circuit City who will not respond to the city's repeated calls.

If you see something broken or in need of repair in y`our neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Jonah Owen Lamb, with your tips at (209) 385-2484 or e-mail jlamb@mercedsun-star.com.

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