Jul 26, 2014

New Day for 'Problem' Chicken Place on Ponce?

Former KFC on Ponce to become Church's Chicken. People hope new business will alleviate safety issues.

New Day for 'Problem' Chicken Place on Ponce?

A long-vacant fast food restaurant on Ponce de Leon soon will serve chicken again.

The former KFC restaurant at 425 Ponce de Leon Avenue will re-open as Church's Chicken, according to general contractor Ricardo Sarmiento.

Renovations to the building, which sits near the intersection of Parkway Drive, started about a week and a half ago, Sarmiento said Tuesday afternoon.

Church's Chicken should open at the end of August, he said.

"We aren't doing much" to the building, Sarmiento said, since it will remain a fast food restaurant that serves chicken. 

An adjacent businessman is happy to see the property re-open for business.

Seth Jones, manager of (which is next door to the restaurant), said he's "glad to see something going in there." 

At the end of May, over recent crimes at the tire shop, including the theft of portions of the air conditioning unit.

When the KFC closed for business around Christmas 2009, Jones said the property became a hotspot for vagrants and illegal activity. He said people "busted out" the glass door and the drive-thru window to gain entry into the abandoned building. 

"There were people staying here," Jones said, pointing to the former KFC.

He said people would smoke crack behind the restaurant in a nook that houses the dumpster. It became such a safety concern that Jones and his workers installed a lock on the gate surrounding the dumpster and filled the area with branches and leaves to "to keep them out of there."

The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, which conducts private patrols around the Midtown neighborhood, has recorded some of the incidents at the former KFC. 

"Vacant buildings almost always become 'problem properties' from a safety perspective," Peggy Denby, president of the security alliance, said Tuesday in an email. "They provide hiding places for criminals, become covered with graffiti, and provide space for any number of illicit behaviors.

"We are very happy to see that building become the site of a viable business again."

Jones hopes crime will decrease in the area when the restaurant re-opens.

"I'm optimistic it will help," he said. 

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