SPRINGFIELD — It’s taking longer than expected to prepare a section of the Crowell-Collier building for demolition.
The century-old magazine publishing complex-turned-catchall-warehouse — declared a public nuisance last year by a local judge — is the single-largest structure in Springfield.
That makes the removal of asbestos, the clearing of junk and the fixing of code violations a major undertaking.
“We’re fighting a good fight,” said Kirby Thomas, director of operations and outside projects for Mosier Industrial Services Corp.
The northeast Ohio company bought the complex in September for $1.5 million from longtime owner Harry Denune. It’s still not known what will become of the downtown complex when work is complete.
“Everything’s on the table right now,” Thomas said.
About a month before its sale last fall, Denune signed a court order with the city agreeing to remove all asbestos by Nov. 20 and to clear out the more than 1 million square feet of inventory within a year.
That would allow for the court-ordered demolition of the centrally located Building F.
But nearly three months later, crews still are working to remove asbestos.
“Usually, you run into a little bit more,” Thomas said Friday. “We’re just about done.”
Part of the delay, Thomas said, was caused by the need to repair two inoperable elevators. Neither Thomas nor the city could put a date on the demolition of Building F.
“Things will be happening soon,” Thomas said. “The city overall is very happy with our progress.”
Shannon Meadows, community development director for the city, has been holding her breath during the process.
“I’m not going to say I’m pleased or displeased,” she said. “It’s a huge project. I’m reserving my pleasure for later.”
The fact that the court-ordered deadline for removal of asbestos came and went is a moot point, according to Meadows, because the order was tied to Denune, not the Mosier Corp.
“It’s a longer process than most people want it to be,” she said.
Closed as a publishing plant in 1956, the complex was bought in 1972 by Denune, who used it to house motorcycle parts for his Dixie Distributing Co.
But through the years, the city repeatedly padlocked the building after a massive fire in 1999.
In 2009, loose bricks fell off the building and it caught fire again in 2011.
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