Residents: Clean up condemned West Cove apartments

west cove in st. george utah
The West Cove apartments, although boarded up, are causing problems for nearby residents. | Photos by Jen Watkins, St. George News

west cove apartmentsST. GEORGE – Residents on 300 West have grown weary of a building they say is destroying their neighborhood and their property values.

Jerry Cox, a resident who lives on 100 S and 300 W, said the condemned West Cove apartments have been causing issues for several years, and he is now seeing his property value decline in an already troubling economy.

“[Transients] stay the night, kids have drug parties and when a call is made to the police, it usually takes a long time for a response, only to have the problem people already gone,” Cox said.

Captain James Van Fleet with the St. George Police Department said the police are not only aware of the problem, but have increased patrols in the area. The police department, along with the City of St. George, continuously board up the complex every time someone breaks in and takes the boards down, he said.

Van Fleet said one of the problems that arise when police arrive is that the storage units are still operating legally behind the apartment complex. When cars are coming and going police must first identify who is breaking and entering, and who is simply using their storage unit.

In 2008, the police department responded to six criminal mischief, nuisance or trespassing calls to that location. In 2009, that number increased and so far, in 2011, it has doubled.

Van Fleet said most of the calls recently have happened on the graveyard shift and involve juveniles smoking marijuana or doing drugs.

Marc Mortensen, support services manager for St. George, said the apartments were condemned over two years ago because of electrical concerns that endangered the safety of residents. He said the city would like to clean up the area, but is not getting a lot of help from the property owner, who also owns the still-operating storage units in the back.

“We’ve had transients living in the storage units, which is illegal,” Mortensen said. “We make them leave, [but the owner] won’t sign a complaint.”

Mortensen said the apartments do not reflect well on the city, but the city cannot tear down the complex because they do not own the property. Instead, they regularly send out code enforcement and the police department.

He said residents like Cox will have to continue to call the police each time they see suspicious activity.

In the meantime, residents are becoming increasingly frustrated as the problems have now crossed the street. A vehicle owned by Cox’s son was recently vandalized when someone rammed it with a cart full of rocks, damaging the driver’s side, and slashed two of the tires.

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Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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  • urbanboy October 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    welcome to the (small) city 🙂

  • Jon Martin October 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Maybe these individuals will have to stop acting like this is Mayberry USA and realize with the growth of a city comes issues liked condemned buildings, transients, urban decay, etc. I’ve been over in that area, and the houses are all old, decaying, the streets of potholes. That whole block of neighboorhoods west of Main St. has decrepit looking homes, it’s like a mini ghetto over there.

  • J'Sean October 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Agree, Jon, urban decay happens even in smaller urban areas like here. Most of the downtown area near Main is experiencing or soon gonna experience urban decay-decaying structures, eyesore neighborhoods, property value/quality of life decreases, drugs, poverty, transients and higher crime. Parts of downtown, like in most older parts of any city, remind me of decaying Detroit.

  • J'Sean October 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    …Hence why the trend of sprawl exists. People wanna move out of the old rundown areas (usualy the central or original part of town) and into the more lavish suburban areas on the outskirts of any city including right here.

  • Jerry Cox October 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm


    In defense for some ofthe neighborhood, There is a mix of bad and good on the shape of houses. You cannot generalize and say that the whole neighborhood is decaying. Have you really driven by and looked at every house. Many, like mine, are older homes, yet taken care of. Trust me, I just put a lot of dollars to bring the sewer line to the street back to code. So yes, there are some of us that do take care of properties. As in the article, it is the decaying homes and properties that is lowering the value of properties like mine that are being maintained.

    • Jon Martin October 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      So does that mean we should get rid of the decaying homes to increase the property value, as well as the inhabitants of those decaying homes? A form of gentrification in downtown St. George? And you are right, it was unfair for me to insinuate that the whole neighborhood is decaying, it just seems to me that the further you head west from main st to bluff, you see more decay, this is true for this block of homes as well as far down as 7th south and almost as far up into the north blocks. I just find it interesting. And J’sean, I know what you mean about decay in Detroit, I have family from there. I’m from Oakland, so I can understand what urban decay looks like.

      • Jeremiah May 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        In cities like Oakland and many others have turned little complexes like this into really adorable artist studios and boutiques. I just drove though the place and all could see is potential. So much so I googled it and found this article. Do something fun and unique, the city will be better for it.

  • Old Man May 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    So if this has become a nuisance, is it not within the power of the city to bulldoze the damn thing and bill the owner for the work done? Or is perhaps, the owner, one of the “good old boys” who is untouchable.
    Looks like it would make a good site for a second merry-go-round

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