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Concerns shared over abandoned apartment building

September 5, 2018

The current state of an iconic former Huntington hotel, which was later turned into off-campus housing catering to Marshall University students, has drawn the attention of city officials, who are working to have the property secured as its owner faces bankruptcy proceedings.

The Flats on 4th, at 1415 4th Ave. in Huntington, recently has fallen into disrepair and turned into a haven for criminal activity, according to city officials. The unkempt, abandoned property has been littered with trash and drug paraphernalia, and there are signs that squatters are living in the facility.

Huntington City Attorney Scott Damron says the owner can’t be found and now the city is working with a bankruptcy trustee to secure the building by way of placing fencing around the property.

Herald-Dispatch readers shared dismay at the status of the site, and also had questions about how it came to be in such a state.

Alex White: “How does someone go bankrupt owning student housing one block from campus and on the same block as all the bars? Truly have to try to be that bad.”

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Sherri Wilmoth Rhodes: “Slum lord would be my guess. Collect the rent, spend the rent, no upkeep.”

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Mary Eschleman Beaty: “The article says the owner, Dennis Johnson, has ‘disappeared.’ It also mentions ‘charging the cost back to the owner.’ Would that be the bank or Mr. Johnson? Is Johnson believed to be in hiding so that he won’t have to pay his debt? Does he have the money to pay his debt? This is just one more bad mark on Huntington, the city in which I grew up. This makes me sick!”

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Jessica Picklesimer Cook: “My stepson lost his life on that property so I can’t say I’m sad about it at all. If there had been better security there, he may have lived.”

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Joseph L Williams: “A sad commentary...”

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Yolanda Thorn Smith: “Sad for me, too. I remember when it was first built. I knew people who lost their neighborhood to the construction. It was quite a showplace back then. Hard to believe its time has passed.”

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Josiah Spriegel: “It’d be nice if it could be turned into a housing co-op.”

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Dave Rowan: “Doze it.”

Work on W.Va. 10 raises questions

Crews are continuing to work on a two-mile stretch of W.Va. 10 between Highlander Way, the entrance to Huntington High School, and Cedar Crest Drive. The project entails relocating splices of the road in order to straighten out the winding lanes, adding a center turning lane and widening the shoulders to make it safer. The majority of the curved roadway in this section is being cut out to improve sight distance and safety.

The new W.Va. 10 will cut through the hillside behind the machine shop and merge back into the existing lanes near Green Valley Road. Improvements are also being made to the bridge on Mount Union Road.

The entire project is expected to take until August 2019, though many readers think it already has gone on long enough.

Amber Kendrick McDearis: “This is a disaster that I have to drive through everyday. It’s nothing but a huge mess. I personally don’t see the need in this at all and feel sorry for the ones losing their houses and the loss of our beautiful hillsides.”

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Erin Littleton: “It is awful!!”

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Gina Hart-Smith: “The only reason it is getting the attention it has long needed is because of the pipeline. Once again WV is ‘paving the way’ for the extraction industry. That is the evil behind all the highway work being done in our state. Many have perished on Rt. 10. But gas needs a road now so DONE.”

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Connie Scragg Cook: “I know for a fact that this has been a project in the works for ... sitting down? ... 60 years!! I was raised on Rt. 10 and in 1958 they came through and surveyed to begin this asinine project. Taxpayer dollars at work...”

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Joab Dellinger: “Great project that will improve that stretch. As someone who utilized that stretch of road, it is long overdue and while it’s a pain now once completed it will be worth it.”

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Suzanne Winters: “What a colossal waste of money.”

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