Tearing Down Walls

Pictured is the rear of the former Quality Chevrolet building that began coming down Wednesday, The building was razed because it became a hazard due to a leaking and collapsing roof. The building is owned by the Reed family and the property is for sale. It is located across Main Street from the United Bank of Union.

A Union landmark that had been declared a “dangerous” building has been razed to comply with a city request.

Work began Wednesday to tear down the former Quality Chevrolet, owned by the Reed family. The site is located across Main Street from the United Bank of Union between Jefferson and Washington avenues.

According to Elliott Reed, who spoke to The Missourian on behalf of the family, the owners were given the option to put a new roof on the building or to tear it down.

“The official word was that it would be declared a nuisance structure because the roof was destroyed,” said Reed.

According to City Administrator Russell Rost, the process to declare the building dangerous had begun, but the city and owners worked out am arrangement before an ordinance was enforced.

City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann and the city’s building inspector Kevin Scheer walked through the building with Reed in July. That is when it was determined that the building would be declared dangerous due to a leaking roof, water in the building and other factors.

In July, Zimmermann told city officials that there were portions of the roof that were collapsing, the roof was leaking and there is water in the building.

“The engineer (Zimmermann) notified the owners that he believed it to be a dangerous building,” said Rost. “Then he presented them with a letter of intent to declare it dangerous, but the owner told them they would take it down.”

He added that the city won’t take any action now that the building is being leveled.

“The city’s concern was to have the dangerous situation abated, we won’t do anything else until someone comes in and applies for a building permit,” Rost said.

Reed noted that his family had tried to sell the building for development, but buyers backed out.

“The original intent was to sell building and lot, but with city declaring it a nuisance, instead of replacing the roof, we just tore the building down,” he said.

Now that the building is being taken down, the Reed family will sell the lot, he added.

Former Plans

The block and buildings had been purchased by Union business owners including Jim 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.

Rost added that 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.