For the last year, Eyewitness News has been profiling Bristol’s fight against blight, highlighting the struggles with the landlord who officials call one of their biggest slumlords.
Recently, Channel 3 returned to one of the first buildings condemned during the saga to see what it looks like now.
The Stearns Street building used to be run into the ground by its previous landlord, Anthony Cammariere.
There was black mold, raw sewage, and a deck that was literally separating from the building.
“When Code Enforcement called me I refused to go in because the building was so bad,” said Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne.
Steve Pappas saw the building though and saw potential.
“I love brick, I love good areas, it’s a one way street, I’m partial to Bristol,” Pappas said.
The city was desperate for a landlord looking to actually invest in the properties, and was able to work out a deal with Pappas.
“The city forgave some of the liens on the property and that in turn, was able to free up some money that Steve was able to invest in the property,” Cockayne said.
Pappas bought the building and the one across the street, with a vision to make the apartments bigger.
“We turn studios and one bedrooms into three bedroom, two full baths, with washer and dryer,” Pappas said.
He tore down the walls, completely remodeled the kitchen and two bathrooms, and the decks also needed to be rebuilt.
Tenants now have sturdy, private decks.
“They’ll have 30 plus years problem free,” Pappas said.
There are aspects from the unsavory past that are still left behind. The outside still needs to be painted, but Pappas kept the wood floors, saying that not all was lost and that rehab, especially with a little help from the city, is always an option.
“We’ve turned that corner and we’re changing neighborhoods. Prices in our neighborhoods are going up,” Cockayne said.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘I don’t want to spend the extra dollar’ routine, and I think a lot of landlords fail to see that extra dollar will pay itself back over the long-term,” Pappas said.
As the city continues to crack down on blight, they said they have programs to help landlords, and anyone can apply.
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