Trash, needles, tents, fire: Neighbors concerned over ‘devolving’ lot in Uptown

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DENVER — As it turned out, Contact Denver7’s reporting on trash and needles at an abandoned Denver car wash in June was just the beginning of the problems and concerns from neighbors. The lot on the corner of 17th and Pearl became the site of a homeless encampment and then a fire earlier in January.

“It’s gross. It’s disgusting,” neighbor Josie Harrington told Contact Denver7, looking at the charred car bays and the partially burnt mattresses inside, now behind fences.

Harrington lives in the nearby Uptown neighborhood, and described the timeline. In June, when Contact7 first learned about the issues, the concern was trash and needles. In the fall, more and more people started using the property to set up tents and live inside the abandoned car wash. On Jan. 2, it went up in flames.

“It was a fire hazard,” Harrington said, claiming she’d seen people burning open flames for heat.

Denver Fire extinguished the flames, but not the concerns of those who live nearby.

“It’s easy for this fire if it’s a windy day, whoosh, all these wooden fences, all the properties, my dog,” Harrington said.

A Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) spokesperson said they had crews come out after the fire and do some cleaning, and that they are “monitoring” the site.

“I guess at this point it should be demolished,” Harrington said. “It’s an eyesore for the city.”

She expressed additional concerns about crime and safety along with the issues at the car wash, adding that herself and several of her neighbors have decided to move out of the area as a result.

“It’s because people are tired of dealing with this and they’re tired of the city not helping all the people,” she said.