Debris removed from ‘The Villager’

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Dirt needed to fill and level-off “The Vilager” apartment complex site in the 100 block of North Center Street sits in a pile Monday, after being unloaded by a dump-truck,


‘The Villager’ site has been getting a makeover.

What was once an eyesore — a giant pile of bricks, sand and weeds sitting behind a chain-linked fence in the 100 block of North Center Street — has been transformed into a clean, level site with fresh dirt.

A crew from Lansing Brothers Construction Co. of Luxemburg has been busy since Sept. 7 cleaning-up charred lumber, steel and more — the remnants of the three-story ‘The Villager’ apartment complex destroyed by a massive fire more than four months ago.

“I think the contractors (Lansing Bros.) are doing a great job,” said At-Large Councilor Leon Lamer.

He had told the Times-Republican approximately six weeks ago he was disappointed the clean-up had not yet begun.

“It (the clean-up) is not moving fast enough for me,”

Thanks to the Lansing Bros, Lamer’s attitude and those of others, has changed.

One is Third Ward Councilor Mike Gowdy.

“It was great news when we (the council) had received word the contractors were on the job,” he said. “Everyone on the council was pleased. That (site) was really getting to be an eyesore … there were reports of snakes in the area. Anything like that (pile of rubble) Is a deterrent to downtown.”

On May 5, a late-evening fire of undetermined origin destroyed the building

All 14 residents escaped unharmed.

No firefighters or law enforcement personnel were hurt fighting the blaze.

Standing walls were demolished several days later for safety.

However, the debris remained four months.

It was the second time in four years fire displaced Villager residents.

In April of 2013, a fire which stared on the third floor and was deemed accidental, caused an estimated $75,000 in damage.

The American Red Cross helped those residents find hotel rooms as it did residents from the May 5 fire.

The 10,146 square-foot structure was owned by Joann Struebing of Marshalltown and had a taxable value of $69,920, according to an online report from the Marshall County Assessor’s Office.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or