Fire-Damaged Building to be Demolished

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A board approved the application for demolition of the destroyed building at 4th and Main in Plattsmouth Monday afternoon. A January fire left the building structurally unsafe and crumbling. Since then, the debate to preserve it due to it's historical value caused much debate within the city.

The building is owned by two people who own two separate parts. Both applications for demolition were approved. Lee Larson, one of the owners, told WOWT 6 News, "It's not a happy day, I didn't want the building to burn I didn't want to have to tear it down, but it's an eyesore, its dangerous, it's put peoples lives in jeopardy, but there is a big portion of my building that could fall at anytime. The liability is unbelievable."

Larson's chirporactic business was housed in the building. Since the fire he has relocated. He said the decision to tear down the timeless architecture and detailed exterior was difficult, and he explored other options, but struggled to find an alternative.

The Historic Preservation Board of Plattsmouth approved the applications at an organized meeting Monday afternoon. The meeting got heated at points, raising frustration from both board members and citizens in attendance. At one point a board member called Larson "dense," to which someone in attendance told him he was being disrespectful.

Eventually, another board member stepped in to explain that the Board's decision to demolish or preserve was tabled last month, in order to give them time to go over various options. The board said their duty is to preserve and they needed to explore whether that is possible. The board said research by an engineering company shows it would be possible to preserve the building and rebuild, but not practical. The assessed worth of the entire building is about $270 thousand, according to the board. They said to rebuild it would be anywhere from an estimated $1.7 million to an estimated $2 million.

The decision to approve the applications comes more than 100 days after the fire. Nearby businesses said it has greatly affected their income, and amount of customers. They also voiced complaints about the gate and debris on the road, which has forced a portion of Main Street into a one-way street. Larson said he was upset the decision took so long, but the board said based on when he filed his application, they've been right on track.

The next step is to file more demolition paperwork with the city, and get the demolition approved by State Regulatory Agencies. They will approve whether the demolition can be done safely. For example, the board said if there is asbestos in the building, that would be something the Agencies would not be able to approve. Larson said the demolition teams he's talked with said there shouldn't be anything to worry about, and the demolition will very likely be able to happen.

The cause of the fire is still technically unknown. That is because the building was not safe enough to allow investigators to go inside. Larson said they will likely be at the investigation and continue to search for a cause during and after the demolition process.

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