Closed downtown Springfield building subject of court cases

Owner of the former bank building now known as Hull Plaza faces 30 criminal counts in municipal court.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A 9-story downtown Springfield building closed since an emergency order in March remains the subject of a legal battle involving the health department, city agencies and the building owner.

The Hull Plaza at 4 W. Main St. at the intersection with South Fountain Avenue also has been known as the National City Bank Building and the Fairbanks Building during its 117-year history.

An order signed by Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson on March 20 said the building was closed because the “property contains dangerous and unsanitary conditions and has been declared unsafe for human occupation” because it “lacks operable sanitary facilities.”

Patterson said then: “The simple fact is: no running water or working fire suppression system, then the Codified Ordinances say no occupancy.”

The owner, Robert Hull of 4 West LLC, said in March he intended to renovate and redevelop the building, which had been home to businesses and organizations before its closure.

Springfield’s chief building official, code enforcement manager, plumbing inspector and certified fire safety inspector conducted a March inspection of Hull Plaza.

“The structure was found to be in poor condition and in need of repair,” wrote Kim Fultz, Springfield’s code enforcement manager, in an April letter that gave Hull 30 days to fix the problems or face possible criminal prosecution.

In June and July, Hull was charged in Clark County Municipal Court in three cases with a total of 30 first-degree misdemeanor counts relating to conditions in the building. A first-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum potential penalty of six months in jail and/or $1,000 fine.

Patterson on Tuesday said Hull Plaza is in the core block and important to revitalizing downtown.

“A vacant building with considerable deferred maintenance is a drain on the physical and mental neighborhood in which it is located,” he said. “This community needs this property to be a contributor to the economics of our city, not a drain on taxpayer dollars.”

The Springfield court fight is not the lone battle Hull has faced.

Demolition started last week on the Gault Village Shopping Center that Hull’s GV LLC owned in Ypsilanti Twp., Mich. A judge ordered the demolition after years of legal battles involving a property that had been condemned and became a haven for criminal activity, according to an article by, a Michigan online news source.

The township will seek repayment for the demolition bill and a potential money judgment that could become a lien on the property, the township attorney told

One of the Springfield cases against Hull includes 18 counts relating to violations of the state fire code.

The complaint alleged a change of use or occupancy in the building, according to Capt. Allan Burton of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division.

“During the fire safety inspection conducted on March 20, 2023, several personal items were observed in the business that would indicate the building was being used for personal (i.e. not business) use. These items included mattresses, clothes, refrigerators and hot plates.”

The inspection also found:

— access to fire department connections was inhibited;

— problems with portable fire extinguishers and exit signs;

— obstructed aisles;

— open junction boxes and open-wiring splices, and

— extension cords used as permanent wiring.

A second case included 10 counts of property maintenance code violations that mentioned problems with chipping/peeling paint, cracked/broken windows and missing ceiling tiles.

It also said officials were unable to enter portions of the building during inspection, found unsanitary floor conditions, and discovered an interior wall that was not structurally sound.

Inspectors found excessive furniture, discarded items and trash throughout the building, the case alleged.

The final case included two counts of alleged Springfield city code violations related to dangerous and unsanitary conditions and the lack of sanitary plumbing facilities that are required.

The parties agreed this month and Judge Daniel Carey approved an order to allow the former tenants access to the building to retrieve property that has been locked inside the building since the March order to close it.

Tenants included longtime Springfield business Mumma Realty and Auctioneers, plus the Turner Foundation, both of which found other office space downtown since the closure.

The Turner Foundation had archives and other property still in Hull Plaza, which had been locked since the March health district order.

Hull Plaza sustained a significant blow near Christmas when pipes ruptured and ice covered parts of the building. At that point, tenants reported no working water, heat or elevator for the building.

Hull Plaza has 72,000 square feet of space and is one of the taller downtown Springfield buildings, offering unique views of the city.

Hull bought the building in 2015 for $250,000 and renamed it in honor of his uncle, former Springfield attorney Anson E. Hull, who once had an office inside the building.

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