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City council sets aside $300,000 for demolition of two downtown buildings


The city's efforts to demolish two downtown buildings moved forward on Monday but it's unclear when construction crews could get started.

The Jefferson City council unanimously approved using about $300,000 from the city's general fund for the project, but it did not approve a proposed demolition contract with ARSI Inc.

Before Monday, city staff requested the council to expedite a vote on the contract so the demolition could begin. The request was rescinded Monday after Neidert's attorney presented "new information."

Neidert's attorney did not comment on the new information except to say that it related to the cost of the project.

The council could take up the contract for a vote at the next council meeting on Dec. 16, which is one week after the city's previously mentioned start date for demolition.

Councilmember for the fourth ward Carlos Graham said he was concerned about the city losing money from the demolition project. Should the council agree on a contract, the city would be paid back through tax liens on the property owners involved.

Ryan Moehlman, the city counselor, said this form of debt collection historically results in the city losing some money.

"I’m just asking the question, where is this money going to come from," Graham said.

Ron Fitzwater, the other fourth ward council member, said he understood the financial concern but is tired of the "eyesore."

“Folks don’t understand why we’ve got half of Madison Street blocked off. They have to go around barricades for 18 months," Fitzwater said. “I think we need  to get on with this.”

In October, the city issued the Dec. 9 deadline for the owners of 200 and 202 E. High Street to decide how to destroy or repair the connected buildings, or else it would bring down both the next day.

Read the letter from Jefferson City staff to the owners of 200 and 202 E. High St. below.

City staff has said they are only becoming involved because the owners have not privately settled how the buildings will be repaired or destroyed.

It appears that negotiations have stalled between the owners of 200 E. High St., Andrew Neidert, and the owners of 202 E. High St., Carol and Ruben Wieberg.

Wieberg said that the two parties recently stopped communicating. Neidert did not comment on the negotiations Monday.

City engineers found both buildings were dangerous after one of the exterior walls of 200 E. High St. partially collapsed in June 2018. For months, no one has been allowed to enter the structures for safety concerns because, in part, the internal wall supports both buildings.

A Cole County judge ruled in October that the internal, or party wall was officially a part of 200 E. High St., making it Neidert's property. The Wiebergs appealed the case to Missouri's Western District Court of Appeals.

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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.


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