Almost two years after an early morning fire destroyed a neighboring building, the buildings at 202, 204 and 206 S. Ohio Ave., have begun to come down.
Demolition began Friday morning on the buildings after the Sedalia City Council approved a bid for the work during Monday’s meeting. The demolition is the last piece of a nearly-two year story regarding the fate of the buildings. A fire on Dec. 14, 2012, caused the buildings at 208 and 210 S. Ohio Ave., to become structurally unstable, resulting in them being torn down later that afternoon.
Gary Huddleston, owner of the buildings at 202-206, has long argued the city’s decision to immediately demolish the fire-damaged buildings — one of which shared a common wall with 206 — caused his building damage and that the city should pay for repairs. However, a unanimous decision was made by the Board of Appeals on Dec. 17, 2013, that Huddleston had three months to start work on his buildings or they would be demolished by the city.
There is not an exact date when the current demolition work will be completed, but City Administrator Gary Edwards told the Democrat on Thursday the work would be completed by the beginning of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, which begins June 4.
Even after the decision by the Board of Appeals, Huddleston still disagrees with the decision to tear down his buildings.
“I think it’s unnecessary,” he said. “I think if the city had used the money to repair it that they are using to tear it down they would have a jewel of Sedalia. …if they would have repaired it, that would be a big draw for the Scott Joplin Festival. They got the state to waive a two-week waiting period to tear this down if the contract was awarded, which the state demands, you know. But the city because of the Scott Joplin Festival they got them to waive it because they said it’s in eminent danger of collapse, but as you can see they can’t get it tore down.”
He watched as Midland Demolition, of Kansas City, Kan., began tearing down the southeast upper corner Friday morning, starting and stopping often while hosing down the bricks with high pressure water.
“If it had been as dangerous as they said it was, that whole thing would have gone by now,” he added. “That’s got to be one of the strongest buildings, the way it’s going down.”
“I’ve been out of business for a year and half,” he said. “I own the building and I had three businesses in it — well we are suing them.”
Huddleston said the city by their actions is showing that he is “insignificant and doesn’t matter.”
“They’ve taken over my building and they’re demolishing it,” he said. “If it was that dangerous it would be down by now. Which just goes to show you, that the building inspector that we’ve got is not qualified for the job … and in fact, the structural engineer that they brought in didn’t know what he was talking about, the demolition is proof of that. They’ve had two structural engineers look at this. One of them within a month after it was damaged, said it was in imminent danger of collapse and could fall any minute. Well he was wrong too.
“Their philosophy is to beg for forgiveness instead of ask for permission,” he added. “What they’re doing is they are going ahead and doing what they want to, without asking permission and then asking for forgiveness later or just forgetting about it. They don’t care.”
Huddleston said he will have a business again but not inside the Sedalia city limits.