NEW ORLEANS -- Vagrants, scavengers and vandals have taken over the old Naval Support Activity Complex on Poland Avenue in the Bywater.
Wednesday, New Orleans fire fighters put out a smoky, two alarm trash fire on the third floor of the abandoned building.
Neighbors complain the once thriving military base has steadily gone down hill since the Navy closed the facility in 2011.
"With the graffiti, people breaking in and we see it all the time," Sammy Baiamonte said. "We call the police and they really don't do much about it."
Baiamonte runs Jack Dempsey's Steak and Seafood Restaurant across the street.
"It does effect our business," Baiamonte said. "People worry about the neighborhood and all. I assure them everything's fine. We have plenty of lighting in the neighborhood. It just doesn't look good."
The city of New Orleans now owns the 25-acre site.
A development team, including former city Homeland Security Director Terry Ebbert has the contract to redevelop the base into a mixed use property with apartments, offices and space for city facilities.
Neighbor Phil Cobb says in the meantime, scavengers are systematically taking apart the building and stealing copper wire, aluminum and other things of value.
"Whoever has the lease on it, needs to get together and get it buttoned up, so nobody can get into it," Cobb said. "The vagrancy is off the charts."
Bywater neighbors also complain about water leaks in and around the former Navy base. One massive leak opened up in November and neighbors said nothing has been done since then to fix the problem, which now has an abandoned parking lot looking like a lake.
"I think the city has totally turned a blind eye towards this building," Cobb said. "It's bringing the values of our homes down."
The developers are expected to submit their plans for the site in May.
The city contract requires them to spend up to five million dollars on public amenity improvements at the old Navy base.
It also requires that part of the site be turned into a "safe room" to house first responders during disasters.
© 2018 WWL-TV