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Winter Haven ballet studio wants action on dilapidated property – News – The Ledger

WINTER HAVEN – Restoration and code enforcement are two processes that take time.

Mikki Lawlor is learning that the hard way.

Lawlor teaches Pilates at the Ballet Conservatory Dance Centre, 505 Ave. I NW, a building that his family has owned since 1983. Most of Lawlor’s Pilates clients are older people, while the dance studio downstairs caters to children as young as 4.

Since a trio of hurricanes hit the area in 2004, Lawlor said he’s been looking nearby at dilapidated buildings, broken windows, overgrown lots, roofs covered with tarps for years and one house significantly damaged by fire. He’s also noted that it has devalued his workplace.

Lawlor said there have been times in the past when people have hid in bushes at the studio and made remarks toward clients. More children are likely to be in the area come Feb. 1 when Gueline Gbobo opens Children’s Day Academy.

“There’s a threat of people who have bad intentions,” Lawlor said. “We have infants to people in their 90s coming in.”

The owner of that burned home and five others in the area, Dawn Campbell, says she is part of the solution. In 2007, Campbell came from Queens to purchase six homes within 300 feet of the Ballet Conservatory. When she first purchased the homes, Campbell said, the properties were unsecured and vagrants were common.

“There were vagrants here, but we’ve gotten rid of them,” Campbell said. “The police have been working with us.”

Of the six properties owned by Campbell, two have been restored and have tenants. She said it won’t be long before a third is ready to be rented out. Campbell said each of the six homes would have been restored had it not been for a holdup early on.

Campbell said a contractor to work on one of the properties put an unlawful lien against the home, claiming that he was not compensated for his work on the dwelling. Campbell said she spent six years and tens of thousands of…

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