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Crumbling building owner claims 19th-century agreement clears him of liability

The owner of the crumbling building at 200 E. High St. in Jefferson City claims he is not responsible for maintaining the wall shared by him and his neighbor, citing an agreement made by property owners in 1892.

The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court Tuesday by 200 owner Neidert Properties LLC, claims that the owners of the properties that later became 200 and 202 E. High St. made an agreement on ownership that applies today.

A copy of the agreement obtained by ABC 17 News said the two buildings shall share the interior wall until it is “condemned or destroyed by accident or other providential causes.”

Andy Neidert, through his attorneys at Berry Wilson LLC, claims that he “owes no duty to (the owners of 202 E. High St) to preserve or maintain the east wall of 200 East High.”

City leaders have said previously that if the interior wall in question were to collapse, both 200 and 202 could totally collapse.

The outer wall of 200 E. High St. first partially collapsed onto Madison St. in early June, which prompted the city to deem the building as dangerous. No one has been allowed inside of 200 since June, which was not the case for 202.

The city ordered that 202 be vacated due to risk of collapse late last week.

Months after the first partial collapse, it was discovered 200, 202 and 204 are connected through shared walls. The city fears any demolition or repair at 200 could impact or damage the two neighbors.

Carol Wieberg, the owner of 202, said that the lawsuit misrepresents the 19th century document.

“They’re interpreting it as the wall has already been compromised,” Wieberg said. “The (interior) wall has not been compromised yet, not yet.”

She also claims Neidert could have prevented the original partial collapse of the outside wall.

“He had plenty of time to see that that wall was failing. It had been failing for two to three years,” Wieberg said.

Neither Neidert nor his attorneys responded to requests for comment.

The city is prepared to begin the process of taking over the demolition project if there is no plan in place by Oct. 24, according to Building Official Larry Burkhardt.

Wieberg said an engineer will inspect the integrity of the interior wall and the rest of the building on Thursday.

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