Scarred by violence, Central Court Apartment complex to get makeover

TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa apartment complex, scarred by years of crime, will soon be getting a makeover. The Central Court Apartments are where police shot and killed a teenager last July.

Vernette Jackson has lived in apartments for 13 years. As she sheds tears, she tells ABC Action News she lives with the pain of knowing her family friend, Javon Neal, was shot and killed in the complex.

Tampa police shot Neal, last July, after they say he was threatening them with a weapon. Jackson said, "It's hard for me to sit on my porch sometimes and look that way. It's like it's happening all over again!"

Jackson says because of the violence, family members don't want to visit her. Jackson said, "I have nieces, nephews. I know they don't like to come over here no more and these babies. Just imagine how a baby feels? Well imagine how a grown up feels."

The appearance, she says, doesn't help. There's a hole in the wall, under her air conditioning unit, cracks in the kitchen, the bathroom floor is ruined, and her bedroom closet leaks. Jackson said, "When it rains real, real hard, I have to take all my clothes and put them on the bed."

That's why Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick is celebrating the announced renovations to the 68-unit complex, which includes remodeling each unit, the courtyard, playground and security.  "As we redevelop to make changes in Tampa Heights, this is going to help Tampa Heights," said Reddick.

Kethessa Fordoms, Javon Neal's mother, said even though it's been difficult to live here since losing her son, she hopes the makeover will make a difference.  "I think it's a better chance that these kids can come up doing right now, because all they got is negativity around them. They are living like pigs."

The Southport firm, in Clearwater, secured the funds for the project, which will cost over $2 million.  It is scheduled to be finished by Christmas.

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