At first glance, it’s hard to see why anyone would call 47 Revere St. — a cedar-shingled, multi-unit house near Woodford’s Corner — a “dump.” The tall ground-floor windows throw long rectangles of light onto the hardwood floor inside. Bright white railings grace the front steps, the doorways and windows are neatly trimmed in green and white, and the hallways are painted a vibrant violet and deep blue.
But a walk around the house begins to tell another story. The property is littered with appliances and junk in the back and side yards: a bicycle, the tray from a highchair, a washing machine, a rusty gas cylinder, a swing …
The trash in the yard bothers the neighbors, but their biggest complaint has been the tenants — or, these days, the lack thereof. “Vacant” is written above all three mailboxes, and the door of the front entryway has been left wide open. The doors into the apartments are locked, but one can freely enter the front hallway and climb the stairs.
Landlord/owner Jeff Corbin said in October that he’s in the process of “doing a complete re-set” by evicting troublesome tenants and renovating the apartments. But in the meantime, neighbors — most of whom would only speak on condition of anonymity for fear of stirring up more trouble— are concerned transients will move in. “Squatters are going to be all over that,” one said.
Nearby residents say the building has been quiet since the most recent tenants moved out a few months ago. But many remember the days when the property’s inhabitants created what one facetiously called “a delightful atmosphere” in the neighborhood.
When the apartments were rented, there was “trash all over the place out there,” one said, including furniture left outside for months. Next-door neighbor John Hatzenbuehler erected a fence between his home and Corbin’s property so he would not have to look at the building and all the garbage in the yard. “The outside did not look good,” he said.
One long-time neighbor blamed Corbin for the building’s appearance. “He hasn’t taken care of that building,” she said. “He wasn’t particularly attentive even when he [lived] there, but it was better than this.”
Asked about the junk in the yard, Corbin said the most recent tenants left it behind, but that he “absolutely” intends to clean it up as part of the renovation.
Hatzenbuehler said the tenants who allegedly left the junk behind were “shady individuals.” He suspected they were dealing drugs inside the house because of the numerous occasions he saw people run in and out of the property while leaving their cars idling outside.
The police were “always going to this particular building,” another neighbor said.
Police records list 43 calls for service to the property since January 2007. They include calls for loud music, assault, suspicious activity, threat/terrorizing, and domestic dispute. During the most recent police visit in August, officers arrested a man who had barricaded himself inside the third-floor apartment. The man was a guest, not a tenant of the property. Dents in the door and a smashed doorknob indicate that force was necessary to extract the suspect.
According to Corbin, the third-floor tenant killed himself shortly thereafter, leaving the building empty. Neighbors’ complaints had already prompted Corbin to evict the second-floor tenant, he said, and he gave the first-floor tenant the boot because “he was just difficult to manage.”
“I’m actively trying to resolve the issue,” Corbin said of the evictions. “I recognize that we were having some serious issues with the tenants.”
Corbin hopes that once renovated,the apartments will attract better-behaved residents. “The apartments themselves are really nice, but you get some tenants in there who just destroy them,” he said.
Neighbors will be watching, and hoping Corbin is doing the same. Landlords “can’t control what their tenants do, but they can keep a better eye on what happens in their property,” a neighbor said.
— Emily Guerin
About this series…
That’s My Dump! is dedicated to investigating run-down and/or abandoned properties in the Portland area. Stumped by a dump in your neighborhood? E-mail dump hunter Emily Guerin at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe she’ll poke around that one next.