‘Our grandchildren will call us foolish’: Crowell-Collier buildings to be demolished

The remaining buildings of the Crowell-Collier property will be demolished, according to Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck.

Smith’s Wrecking, in Springfield, has been tasked with tearing down the buildings and the smoke stack located at High and Main streets, Heck said.

“We did get a demolition permit around July 11, that permit was approved on July 18 for the demolishing of the remaining buildings,” Heck said.

Smith’s Wrecking will not be using explosives to take the building down, and will instead be using, “traditional trackhoes equipment,” Heck said

“They would expect some time next week full-blown demolition,” Heck said.

PAST COVERAGE: More buildings to be razed at Crowell-Collier

PAST COVERAGE: Demolition begins on Crowell-Collier site in downtown Springfield

The Springfield News-Sun reached out to the property owner, Moiser Industrial, and Smith’s Wrecking about what’s next for the Crowell-Collier property but has not yet heard back.

Crowell-Collier — once the printing home of the world’s largest magazine publishing company —closed as a publishing plant in 1956.

The property was sold to Harry Denune in 1972. He used it to house his Dixie Distributing Co. motorcycle parts business.

The property caught fire in 1999 and again in 2011 before Denune sold it to Mosier in October 2011 for $1.5 million.

The city filed a complaint against Mosier in July 2012 to set a timeline to clean out the property due to safety concerns.

The once-900,000-square-foot structure occupied an entire city block, and was the largest in Springfield, before demolition of some of its building began in 2014. The structure currently has about 400,000-square-feet left to be torn down.

Kevin Rose, a historian at the Turner Foundation in Springfield, said tearing down the remainder of the Crowell-Collier property is something, “that we will regret for generations.”

“Our grandchildren will call us foolish and we deserve to be called foolish for losing a landmark,” Rose said. “You give that building to nine out of the 10 developers and they are going to make a fortune off it. They are going to redevelop that building and it’s going to be very successful.”

The building is perfectly designed for high-end apartments, Rose said.

“It would be a massive investment in the community and we know it could happen. It just didn’t hold out long enough and weather the storm,” Rose said. “A big building like this, just the fact that it has survived so long shows how important it is.”

Rose said it’s his understand that nothing will be done with the space.

“It will stay empty for 25 or 30 years. When trying to save a building, it’s helpful to have an owner who is passionate about the community. What we have here is people who are not here for Springfield,” Rose said. “It makes it a lot more difficult.”

Facts & Figures:

$1.5M: Price building was purchased at in October 2011

900,000: Original square-footage of the Crowell-Collier property, before demolishion began in 2014

400,000: Square-footage that still needs to be demolished

The Springfield News-Sun has followed the demolition of the Crowell-Collier Building since it began being torn down in 2014.

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