Multimedia Journalist

Crumbling building owner cleared for demolition

The owner of a crumbling building in downtown Jefferson City can proceed with demolition, Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce reaffirmed Wednesday.

Brian Francka — representing Carol and Ruben Wieberg, who own 202 E. High St. — filed a motion to reconsider Joyce’s June judgment, which ruled Neidert Properties LLC, owner of 200 E. High St., could proceed with demolishing the building.

On June 7, 2018, the west wall at 200 E. High St. partially collapsed due to water infiltration and hidden decay of the mortar in the wall.

The buildings at 200 and 202 E. High St. share a common wall.

A legal battle over who was responsible for repairs lasted several months. Joyce’s ruling stated Neidert Properties owned the wall and therefore could proceed with demolishing 200 E. High St.

Neidert Properties applied for a demolition permit from the city in September.

Attorney Josh Devine — representing Andrew Neidert, with Neidert Properties — said his client continues to work with the city to demolish the structure.

The Wiebergs and Neidert have had ongoing discussions to resolve the issue, Francka said.

Since the ruling is final, an appeal could be made, said David Bandré, who represents the Wiebergs. The ruling could clear up issues they are having with insurance companies, he added.

Previously, Brandré said, his clients were trying to find ways to save their building and were waiting for a response from their insurance company.

Carol Wieberg told the News Tribune in July they were considering purchasing the lot and constructing something there, but discussions were still preliminary.

Neidert previously said he would sell his property to the Wiebergs for $1 or purchase 202 E. High St. from the Wiebergs for $1. However, neither of those deals came to fruition, Neidert previously said.

Neidert did not respond to News Tribune’s request for comment Wednesday.

Businesses Love2Nourish and MO Juice were located inside 202 E. High St. before they had to vacate last fall. Law firms Berry Wilson LLC and Turnbull & Stark LLC were previously located in 200 E. High St.

About a year ago, the city ruled 200 and 202 E. High St. were dangerous buildings and gave Neidert and the Wiebergs deadlines to repair or demolish their buildings, which both property owners missed. After they missed the deadlines, the city conducted administrative hearings and ruled the city could begin the abatement process if the property owners did not repair or demolish the buildings.

The Wiebergs filed a lawsuit against the city in March, asking for a new hearing. In June, Joyce affirmed the city’s ruling that 202 E. High St. was a dangerous building, and the Wiebergs must repair or demolish the property.

The city hasn’t changed its stance on the buildings, City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said. It would be the “best-case scenario” if the parties resolve the issue themselves, he added.

“We would love if they could work this out amongst themselves and save an old building on the most important street in downtown,” Moehlman said. “But it’s not up to us to make that happen.”

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