Planners are now eyeing other possibilities, such as a consolidated car rental facility, additional parking and a public transportation hub to accommodate light rail trains and a people mover to serve passenger terminals. Construction could be at least a decade away, assuming those plans proceed at all.
Markosian, who intends to stay as long as he can, recalls a time in Manchester Square when children's bicycles left on the front porch at night would still be there in the morning.
"It used to be an excellent neighborhood," he said. "There were plenty of kids and crime was low."
With no mortgage payment, Markosian says he can tolerate the blighted conditions, which have driven off neighbors who had wanted to stay in their homes.
Cari Lynn Parrish said she liked her place on Hindry Avenue, but the march of deterioration became too much for her as a single parent.
"I felt my daughter and I were vulnerable," said Parrish, now 50 and a marketing consultant in Indiana. "There were 8-foot chain-link fences, trash and empty lots all around my home. You can't live like that."
Unlike many of her neighbors who sold out, Parrish said she fought airport officials for two years to get a fair price for her home: $390,000 in 2004 -- $60,000 more than the initial appraised value set by the airport.
"Some homes were taken for less than market value. There were some abuses," said Parrish, recalling one house very similar to hers that was appraised $70,000 below her home's value by the airport. "It was sell or nothing. It's so sad."
In 2003, state regulators disciplined a private appraiser hired by LAX who Parrish accused of valuing her property in a way that favored LAWA. A year later, an airport audit concluded that the buyout program was hampered by inadequate oversight, a lack of qualified accounting personnel and a high turnover rate of staff and managers.
As the purchases continued, vacant buildings that weren't torn down right away became havens for transients and scavengers who ripped out the pipes and electrical wiring to sell for scrap, property owners said. One homeless man died in an abandoned house and went undiscovered for weeks, Markosian recalled.
The empty homes also were used for movie sets as well as police and fire training, complete with explosions. Filmmakers simulated a helicopter crash in the neighborhood and shot scenes in the rubble of homes being demolished, residents said.
"At least the airport got some use out of the property," Markosian said.
A group of apartment owners, unhappy with the deteriorating conditions, won a Superior Court judgment and damages against the city in 2009 after arguing that the airport's actions created the blight.
The victory was overturned two years later by an appellate court, which ruled that the airport had not coerced property owners into selling, condemnation proceedings were not being used and no LAX project had been approved for the neighborhood.
The appellate ruling stood but drew criticism from some legal experts, including Gideon Kanner, an eminent domain specialist and professor emeritus at Loyola Law School who wrote commentaries about the decision. He contends the buyout program smacks of the unfair tactics some governments have used to lower the value of private property they wanted to buy.
"This is just outrageous," Kanner said. LAWA "is not buying land there because it is civically minded. It is not buying land there because it wants to reduce noise."
Though the rental market has improved recently, apartment owners in the area say their turnover and vacancy rates remain high and rents have had to be lowered to attract tenants. That and an uncertain future, they say, make them reluctant to invest in improvements on their properties.
"It's the worst thing," said Paul Ling, who owns three apartment buildings in the area. "We don't know what will happen, and Los Angeles World Airports doesn't know what to do."
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