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City working to keep people out of vacant buildings in downtown arena footprint

Vacant home in Union Plaza neighborhood. (CBS4/KFOX14)

Buildings in the Union Plaza neighborhood are boarded up. The city says it's making sure no damage and no unwanted visitors are coming into the now vacant buildings.

Larry Nichols with the city's planning and inspection department says they're making sure people aren't living there illegally.

"Whether it be in the Durangito area or other areas of El Paso, we have what is called a vacant building ordinance,” Nichols said. “Within that ordinance, it's a requirement that vacant buildings be secured."

If there's anyone in the buildings who shouldn't be there, the property owners are held responsible.

"If it's city property, we secure it right away,” Nichols said. “If it's another property owner, we send them notice and ask for the same compliance."

CBS4 called the Paso Del Sur activist group to ask if they've had any problems, and what they're doing to secure the buildings. They tell us they haven’t seen anything but, are not commenting on what they’re doing to secure the buildings at this time.

Now that a judge has said the city can build an arena here, Nichols says the buildings can be demolished.

"Demolition can now proceed but we do need to give 14-day notice to the counsel for the opposing party,” Nichols said. “Otherwise, in the master plan area, demolition permits are being issued."

The city says it hasn't received any calls of unwanted entry for the buildings it owns in the area.

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