"Wishing Well has been a notoriously bad place," Reed said.
One visibly upset resident asked Reed why it took so long for the city to act.
"You brought this to my attention, and now I'm doing something about it," he said. "I don't think it's a good spirit to attack each other."
City officials say Tuesday’s demolition is a down payment on reducing the number of blighted, vacant properties around the city. If approved by City Council, a new law would require owners of vacant properties to register them or face fines. Reed said the city had reduced its backlog of code violations to fewer than 2,000 from more than 4,500 when he took office in January 2010.
"We're working hard every day to push that number lower and lower," he said.
The demolition of Wishing Well will cost about $183,000. C.J. Davis, who runs code enforcement operations for the Atlanta Police Department, said about 200 properties are high priorities to be torn down within a year. A mixture of local and federal funds help cover the cost.
"We have moved aggressively to take this process and shrink it down," she said.
For Stacey Hopkins, who used to live in the neighborhood before moving to Hapeville, the tear-down was a good start. But Hopkins, who said she called the city repeatedly about the problem, said there were other properties nearby that should get similar treatment.
"We'll be back," she said. Just around the corner, "it looks like New Orleans."