City officials Monday night agreed to begin the process to declare the former Quality Chevrolet a “dangerous” building, which would require the owners to make major repairs, or level the structure.
The city’s parks, building, development and public service committee is recommending the full board of aldermen begin the process under the city nuisance ordinance.
According to City Administrator Russell Rost, there must be a public hearing with the building owner. Then a timetable for the building to be abated or razed would be determined.
City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said he and the city’s building inspector Kevin Scheer walked through the building Monday with Elliott Reed. The former Quality Chevrolet building, and block where the building is located, has been in the Reed family for many years, according to Elliott Reed who spoke to The Missourian on behalf of the family last month.
The building is across Main Street from the United Bank of Union at Washington Avenue.
Zimmermann explained that there are portions of the roof that are collapsing, the roof is leaking and there is water in the building.
“The building does meet the definition of a dangerous building,” said Zimmermann. “The next step is to work with the owner to get this abated.”
He added that the Reed family may prefer to take the building down instead of making repairs.
“It all could reasonably be fixed, but that is up to the property owner,” he said. “They indicated that they have no interest in making repairs.”
Alderman Bob Schmuke said if the building is torn down, he would like the process to move quickly.
“I’d like to see it gone by the end of the year,” he said.
He added that the building is not good representation of the community.
“When people drive down Main Street from out of town they see that in our downtown business district,” said Schmuke. “It’s time we make that part of town look nice.”
The Reed family has tried to sell the building for development, but those buyers backed down.
The Quality Chevrolet building was purchased by Jim Ming and a group of investors who tried to broker a deal with Fricks Market to expand the grocery store, but that plan also fell through.
After that venture, the building was again in the hands of the Reed family following a real estate auction.
“If we are going to do it, we need to do it,” said Mayor Mike Livengood. “It’s time to make a move on it.”
The block and buildings had been purchased by Union business owners including Ming called “Quality Investors.” The group had negotiated with representatives of Central Market Inc., owners of Fricks Market, to sell property for expansion of the store.
City officials agreed to vacate Locust Street to allow for Fricks Market to expand north, contingent on the purchase of a block of buildings, including the former Quality Chevrolet building.
The Fricks ownership group backed out of negotiations because there are underground fuel tanks on the site, which required additional environmental studies than what had already been conducted.
After that deal fell through, Central Market Inc. owners entered into an agreement with the Jim Trenary Automotive Group in Union to relocate the business to that company’s site on North Church Street.
St. Louis-based Benchmark Healthcare, LLC, also had looked at the property as a possible location for a 60-bed senior living facility. That company instead will build at the intersection of St. Andrews Drive and Denmark Road.
The proposed 30,000- square-foot skilled nursing care facility is estimated to cost about $7 million.