A huge, vacant apartment complex in north-end Saint John that needs new owners with deep pockets has become more than just an eyesore.

Tenants were ordered out of the Mitchell Apartments in the summer of 2016 because of building and fire code violations. The building went into receivership, leaving the city with responsibility for maintenance.

"We have been putting some resources into it,” says Saint John councillor John MacKenzie. “We cleaned up some piles of garbage around and we boarded up the lower levels windows and doors."

But garbage of all descriptions keeps showing up.

“We're talking now about putting up cameras because we're not going to have the resources to continue coming in here and cleaning up garbage,” says MacKenzie. “We need to catch the people doing it."

Those who have gone in the complex recently say every light fixture has been smashed to pieces, and the vandalism literally goes all the way to the top. Someone spelled out "send nudes" on the roof in clear view of the nearby Rocmaura Nursing Home.

Vandalism problems have been highlighted on Mayor Don Darling’s Facebook page.

"If you see people down here trespassing, breaking into this building, please call the police,” Darling said in a Facebook plea.

Real estate agent Marcus Power still sees hope for the site.

"There's a ton of potential. One thing the north end needs is more apartments, so my opinion on this would be for the buyers to buy it and turn it back into apartment buildings," says Power.

Power says he’s making progress on selling the building, which is the biggest single group of boarded-up buildings in Saint John.

"Probably 12 to 15 enquires,” he says. “We've had four offers come in on the building, one which has been accepted at this time."

Power says they will know early in the new year if the sale passes all the legal and financial hurdles. City officials say the clock is ticking.

"I think that the time will come that if somebody doesn't see the opportunity here and move on it, it will end up coming down. It can only stay this way for so long," says MacKenzie.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron.