Council to consider approving demolition of another pair of aging downtown Mitchell buildings

Apr. 30—MITCHELL — The Mitchell City Council will consider approving a permit on Monday that would allow another set of corroding downtown buildings to be demolished.

The buildings, located at 116 and 118 E. First Ave., sit next to a property that was struck by an impaired driver a little over two years ago, which caused major structural damage to the front of the neighboring buildings. While the 116 and 118 E. First Ave. buildings weren't damaged by the nearby vehicle collision, the property owner is seeking to tear the buildings down in part due to the high costs of repair work needed to rehabilitate them and the structural stability.

The council will vote on the demolition permit during the 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

According to City Planner Mark Jenniges' memo to the council, the Mitchell Historic Preservation Committee agreed in early April that demolishing the historic buildings was a feasible option due to the "high costs" of repair work needed to renovate the old buildings.

However, the State's Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) made a determination on Jan. 4 that the proposed demolition plan would "encroach upon, damage, or destroy a historic property," according to the city's documents.

Despite SHPO's stance on the demolition project, the council has the authority to override any recommendations made by the state agency. In the past, SHPO has made similar conclusions with other corroding Mitchell buildings that were approved to be demolished, including Prather Hall on DWU's college campus.

A case report of the building included in the council's agenda packet indicates the "stability of the building has been compromised" due to the demolition of the former neighboring property that sat on the east side of the 116 and 118 E. First Ave. buildings.

The report also states concerns of the buildings' stability when the neighboring property on the west side is torn down, which is scheduled to take place in the near future.

Over the past three years, the corner of First Avenue and Lawler Street has undergone a transformation. A nuisance property that sat to the east of the 116 and 118 E. First Ave. buildings came down roughly two years ago and left a vacant lot.

In March, the council approved a demolition permit for the 112 and 114 E. First Ave. buildings to come down, which are situated directly to the east of the 116 and 118 E. First Ave. buildings. The damage sustained from the vehicle collision was another key factor that led the neighboring property owners to seek the demolition route.

When the neighboring buildings along the east side are razed soon, the 116 and 118 E. First Ave. building would be the lone property still standing in the downtown corner of First Avenue and Lawler Street.

According to city documents about the property owner's future plans for the lot post-demolition, there are plans to redevelop the downtown lot that sits in a high-traffic area.