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Building torn down on Main exposes another

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM
The east wall of The Optical Center was exposed after a vacant building was torn down last week.

The demolition of buildings damaged by the July 2018 tornado continues and some other businesses are feeling the residual effects.

A vacant building nestled between The Optical Center and the duo Odds & Ends and Wax Xtatic on Main Street was torn down by Corona Construction of Marshalltown last week and has exposed the east outside wall of The Optical Center.

City of Marshalltown Public Works Director Justin Nickel said the building was condemned and had to be removed.

Fortunately for The Optical Center owner and optician Julie Schossow, her business and the apartments above did not share a wall with the damaged building.

Unfortunately, that leaves her with an expense her insurance will not cover.

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM
The Optical Center on Main Street remains open despite the demolition.

“It’s going to cost me a fortune,” Schossow said. “Structurally everything here is okay.”

She was told by the Marshalltown Central Business District that some grants might be available to help her pay for the wall. Schossow received a $75,000 estimate of fixing the wall before the demolition began.

After the building was demolished, Odds & Ends and Wax Xtatic announced the business was closing until further notice.

The Optical Center, however, is staying open and customers are coming and going through the door. Schossow did have some concerns when the demolition was going on because the building shared a foundation with hers.

Even though she might have some headaches now, Schossow is glad the vacant building is gone.

Vacant buildings, she said, can raise heating costs and attract vermin such as mice. Plus, it was a definite hazard.

“I am glad it came down without damaging my building,” Schossow said. “The building couldn’t have been safe. I would like to see something nice put in its place.”

Some ideas she had is a nice sitting or eating area for people who enjoy meals downtown in the summer. Even better, a parking lot.

“I have a lot of older customers,” Schossow said. “I would like for them not to walk as far.”

The city’s role

The city of Marshalltown has permitted demolition at the Wells Fargo location on Church Street which is active and has permitted the future removal of the building located at 7 1/2 E. State St.

Michelle Spohnheimer, the housing and community development director for the city, said so far the city has incurred no cost for the demolition.

“They have all been private funded demolitions,” she said. “In general, if the city conducts a demolition of a privately owned building, we would assess the costs back to the property.”

Many of the properties slated for demolition are tornado-related and Spohnheimer does not know how many of them remain.

“Some owners are working to make repairs,” she said. “We continue to monitor building progress and if no permits have been issued or progress made we will send notice to owners looking for action within a specific time frame. Our goal is that all situations will be handled privately, either repair or demo, and not require any city action.”

The role of the city in the repair or destruction of the buildings is minimal. Spohnheimer said many of them have private owners and it is not the city’s role to step in. Only when there is no activity on a structure that is clearly a hazard to the public will the city take action, she said.

Spohnheimer said many building owners struggled with insurance companies regarding claims and then had to make decisions whether it would be more financially feasible to repair the structure or demolish it.

Like the new empty space on Main Street, there are several throughout Marshalltown as a result of tornado demolition. Spohnheimer said the empty lots are all private owned at this point and it is up to the owner how to proceed with the land.

“Future development would have to comply with current codes and we would look to the Downtown Master Plan as well for guidance,” she said.

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Contact Lana Bradstream at

641-753-6611 or

lbradstream@timesrepublican.com