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Wrong house demolished by city-hired contractor

A city-hired contractor admits to tearing down the wrong Little Rock house. Despite the property owner's setback, the contractor stands by his action.

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Dozens of houses in Little Rock's Harrison Street area are condemned and slated for demolition. Dozens of houses, but not Jessie Vernon's.

"It was a solid structure, you know," said Vernon. "It was something that I could work with but now it's nothing I can work with. There's nothing I can do with it."

Youngblood Demolition and Excavating won the city's bid to take down a condemned house at 2804 Harrison Street but before the city's code enforcement officer arrived, the contractor took down Vernon's property, right next door, instead.

"There's nothing I can do with it, now," said Vernon.

"The city did not erroneously give a wrong address," said Little Rock housing director Andre Bernard. "The city did not instruct them to demolish this wrong property. The liability is going to fall with that demolition contractor."

Thursday, over the phone, contractor Grant Youngblood acknowledged his mistake, saying "I messed up," and "I wasn't thorough enough." However, Youngblood also stands by his decision adding, "People keep calling it a house but the correct terminology is crack house." But not to property owner Jessie Vernon who now walks the rubble he planned to renovate into a rental home.

"I should have never had to go through it," said Vernon.

As for the condemned house next door, it's still standing and the city is looking for a new contractor to take care of the job.

Youngblood says he offered Vernon $2,000 for the mistake and even offered to buy him another property on the block. Vernon turned down both offers and asked for $50,000. Both men now say they're letting their lawyers handle it.

Vernon's house at 2800 Harrison Street was declared "unsafe vacant" in April 2012; however, it had not been condemned.

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