Owners of the Kibbey Building, which used to stand next to 135 E. Main St., have a month to address the building's exposed wall or the city could take legal action against them.
Curt Ward, city attorney, said the city sent a dangerous building notice to the property owners Thursday. The owners have 30 days from the time they receive the letter to fix the problem.
"It's a matter of having them winterize the building," Ward said. "Winter is coming and we want to have something done."
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
The exposed wall of the Kibbey Building is shown here Friday afternoon. The city sent a notice to the property owners Thursday declaring the building a danger. The owners will have 30 days to winterize the building or the city could take legal action.
If the owners, Sheri and Dwayne Rettig, don't take measures to ensure the building can stay heated for the duration of winter, Ward said the council has many options at its disposal. He said he would likely recommend taking the Rettigs to court in an attempt to seize insurance proceeds.
Should they deem the situation to be an emergency, the council can opt to proceed having the building repaired with city money and capture that money later from the owners. The city wants to ensure the building stays heated in the event that the city ends up having to absorb the costs. If the building's mortar freezes, heating costs for the building increase significantly, Ward said.
"The city is trying to get it taken care of on someone else's dime," he said.
Ward said he doesn't know where the city would get that money to pay for repairs, but that it is an option. He hopes it doesn't come to that, he added.
Sending the dangerous building notice is to ensure that, if the owners should be unresponsive, the process has already begun.
The city sent a previous letter to the Rettigs in late August informing them they need to start the process after the Iowa Economic Development Authority denied the city a grant to rehab the upper floor into low-income housing.
Michelle Spohnheimer, housing and community development director, said the city met with the Rettigs after the August letter went out. She said it is her understanding that they plan to sell the building and, failing that, have it demolished.
A call to the Rettigs Friday afternoon to confirm what they intend to do with the building was unreturned at press time.
The building is unused.
Spohnheimer said the city would like to see the building continue to contribute to the downtown community.
"It's hard to lose a building downtown," she said. "We would definitely like to see new activity in there."