Boone County Family Resources seeks to demolish St. Joseph Street houses

Monday, June 4, 2012 | 7:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:18 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 4, 2012

COLUMBIA — Boone County Family Resources submitted an application Friday that would allow the agency to demolish two properties on St. Joseph Street.

The state-funded social service agency bought three houses across the street from its headquarters on St. Joseph Street last year, one of which was demolished in August of last year. BCFR is now seeking to demolish the remaining houses at 302 and 308 St. Joseph St.

The Historic Preservation Commission will hear remarks regarding the proposed demolition from John Simon of John Simon Associates, Inc. at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Daniel Boone City Building .

Simon is under contract to oversee the demolition and will speak on behalf of BCFR at the meeting.

The agency does not have immediate plans for what would be built in place of the demolished properties, said associate director Robyn Kaufman.

However, Kaufman said she feels the best use for the land is as residential living for people with disabilities.

"It's ideally located by a bus stop and near many businesses," she said.

BCFR attempted to look into repairing the two residences, but after speaking with an architect and an appraiser, the organization decided it would be too impractical and not an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars, Kaufman said.

There is a ten-day waiting period before any demolition can occur, said Community Development Director Tim Teddy.

He also said that before BCFR turned in its demolition application, it contacted the commission to ask for time to speak at its meeting. The BCFR is required to give notice to the commission.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss what will be salvaged from the demolition, Teddy said.

"If the commission deems it appropriate, they will contact the landowner for further discussion," he said. "Unless it is a protected local landmark, we cannot stop the demolition."

Nina Wilson-Keenan, a resident at 305 St. Joseph St., is concerned that the agency's lack of building plans will compromise the historic nature of the neighborhood. The building at 308 St. Joseph St. is one of the original houses on the street, Wilson-Keenan said.

"If they have no actual plans, why are they demolishing it?" Wilson-Keenan said. "I would like them to produce a plan for the design."

She said the agency has made promises in the past about what they wish to build, but they haven't followed through.

BCFR had told her at their board meeting last year that they were going to remodel the houses with a style similar to the neighborhood's, Wilson-Keenan said.

Adam Saunders, vice-president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, said he's interested in contributing some ideas to the project. He said he hopes BCFR will maintain its plan to expand the neighborhood's community garden to Ash Street.

"I hope they push forward with that design so that they can create a world-class, handicap-accessible community garden," Saunders said.

Kaufman said Tuesday's commission meeting is another opportunity to keep communication lines between BCFR and the residents open.

"We certainly want to be good neighbors," Kaufman said.

Supervising editor is Ted Hart.

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Mike Martin June 4, 2012 | 9:15 p.m.

The neighbors warned everybody about this. As for BCFR building disability-friendly group homes, that's an old model they and virtually every other disability agency did away with years ago in favor of family-centered care in the home. It's in their annual report. Unless they intend to build such homes and SELL them to people with disabilities, the plan doesn't make sense (and why pay so much for the land?)

The neighbors around there believe the land will instead be sold to the Odles, or some other developer interested in throwing up more student housing. Probably a good bet.


(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice June 5, 2012 | 9:18 a.m.

BCFR has added a third demo at 218 St. Joseph without explanation or notice to their neighbors. Guess they thought the media coverage wouldn't be quite so bad if they spaced'em out a little.

"We certainly want to be good neighbors," Kaufman said.

You're failing, Robin.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice June 5, 2012 | 2:53 p.m.

I need to make a public apology. Overnight last night, someone moved a demolition permit sign from one of the two properties, 302 & 308, that BCFR have decided to destroy to 218 St Joseph, a property of BCFR that they are currently renting.

Since they had told the neighborhood that they would be treating 302 & 308 as they had treated 218, it didn't surprise any neighbor to see a demo sign in front of 218 this morning.

However, I failed to do due diligence in confirming why the sign was in front of 218, and made an incorrect statement in public based on inadequate information. And, yes, I have confirmed the accuracy of this account with the City staffer responsible for demo permits (who's a pleasure to work with, by the way).

My apologies to Robin and her staff.

(Report Comment)

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