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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

LCRA turning attention to commercial properties

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A.C. James works on clearing up a lot after the demolition of the old Red Devil building.
SIKESTON -- While continuing to make progress with residential properties, Sikeston's Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority is now cleaning up some of the major blighted commercial property.

The LCRA recently completed the demolition of the old Scott-Huff building and cleanup of the lot, but have not stopped there.

"I think the most visible thing you are going to see is here at 330 East Malone, the old Red Devil Radio," said David Ziegenhorn, LCRA chairman.

The buildings, which recently housed a tattoo shop, have been there for as long as most residents can remember.

"About 40-50 years ago, there was a set of scales there," Ziegenhorn recalled. "It was even the license bureau at one time back in the early '60s."

The buildings were located on the railroad's right-of-way which was leased.

"We acquired the lease and are doing the demolition," Ziegenhorn said. "We are going to return it to landscaped ground just like everything else between Main and North West Street. Between the MoDOT right-of-way and the railroad land, I just don't think that's redevelopable land."

Also in the works is a major LCRA project on the west side of North West Street.

"We're getting ready to undertake the largest project we'll have and that is demolition and redevelopment of the old Federal Compress property on West North. With that demolition and getting it ready for redevelopment, we can guesstimate right now that is going to be a $300,000 project," Ziegenhorn said. "It's about a 40,000 square foot building -- that is what's left of the old Compress building; then there are all those concrete walls from what has burnt down over the years; and then I'm told that concrete floor in the building is 6-8 inches thick, so there is just truckload after truckload of concrete to get off that property."

Ziegenhorn said there had been a tenant in the building which had slowed the acquisition process.

"That building has been a bit of an eyesore for awhile," he said. "We just got possession of it June 1."

Ziegenhorn said the LCRA is seeking grant assistance with this project as they did with the old Baptist Church on Kingshighway.

"We're in the application process for a Community Development Block Grant to fund a good deal of the project," Ziegenhorn said. He said the LCRA will probably apply for about $250,000 in CDBG funding.

"Between the grant process and demolition and all, we could be looking at two more years to get this accomplished," Ziegenhorn said.

In the meantime, "there's a whole bunch of cleaning up to do prior to the grant," he said, which includes debris, tall grass and trees on the acreage inside the fenced-in area.

Ziegenhorn said city officials are considering applying to the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston for a crew of prisoners for the cleanup.

"Most of those crews out of Charleston have been tied up by MoDOT on road projects, so we don't know what is available," he said.

Ziegenhorn said the Public Works department has its hands full with its regular duties, "so we're trying not to burden them with this."

In addition to that property's 5.5 acres, the city owns another seven acres adjacent to that property, according to Ziegenhorn.

"That gives us a large tract of land with all sorts of possibilities for redevelopment," he said.

Also on the horizon for the LCRA's commercial property cleanup efforts is the old service station at 703 West Malone next to Lewis Furniture at the corner of Handy and West Malone.

"We are already one year into the acquisition process and it will probably be another year before we get to acquire that property and demolish it," Ziegenhorn said.

In addition to working on blighted commercial properties, the LCRA is continuing its efforts in cleaning up residential areas and is now ready to begin some residential redevelopment.

"Right now we own about 150 residential properties," Ziegenhorn said. "We've got about 45 other properties still on our target list, properties that we're actively working on acquiring."

The LCRA has already sold one property to Habitat for Humanity and has issued a request for proposals to sell nine residential properties replated from 18 narrow "shotgun" lots.

"I think we have some pretty desirable building locations now with replatting those," Ziegenhorn said.

Bids on these properties will be opened on Aug. 6.

Ziegenhorn said he and the other LCRA commission members are getting positive feedback from the community regarding their efforts.

"I appreciate all the good comments and compliments that I hear from citizens in town for the LCRA's work," he said. "Needless to say, the support from the Council and the city staff has been tremendous. We really feel like we are making a difference and everybody is really behind what we are doing because of all the positive comments we hear."