City on Hook for Demo of Collapsed Portion of Lair Building

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 15, 2021 at 4:10pm

The City of Jacksonville is on the hook for the demolition of an unsafe structure that suffered a partial collapse earlier this week.

Work has begun to bring down the rear portion of the Lair Building located at the corner of West State and North West Streets. Sometime between 7:00 and 7:40 Monday night, the connected two-story rear portion of the structure suffered a roof collapse causing severe damage to two adjacent buildings.

Jacksonville Director of Community Development and Building Inspector Brian Nyberg says the city has had to fall on the financial sword to make the building safe.

The owners were financially unable to make the property a non-hazard because right now that property is a hazard and it’s unsafe. It’s got the potential of a secondary collapse which would damage the buildings to each side of it.

So the city had to step in and have them sign a consent to demo. So we are going to try to take it down to where it’s no longer a hazard and then have some engineers reevaluate what needs to be done from there.”

The portion being demolished faces North West Street and is connected to law offices on two sides which were both damaged by the collapse. Nyberg says it’s a delicate process because currently, they cannot tell if the collapsed section of the building is connected to or a full part of the three-story main building to the south.

Nyberg says most of the work will have to be done by hand to take the remnants of the second story off and if the two sections are interconnecting, it’s going to be a big problem. He says going forward, both the demolition bill and the entire building itself will likely have to go through litigation before anything can be decided.

The city will put a lien on this property. This is a property that was purchased through the tax trustee for less than one thousand dollars, and it’s kind of been stagnant and hasn’t had much work done to it since it was purchased.

I assume this is going to have to be decided on how to move forward in court. Whether they have the money to move forward and how they proceed with the city having a lien on the back portion of their building.”

Nyberg says it’s too early in the process right now to determine if the city would be eligible for reimbursement through the land bank or via grant funding from the state.

I have to take those on a case by case basis and when the state has these grant possibilities. So they don’t have that currently, but usually, when they put out those grants they allow one year prior so I’m hoping that’s going to happen again.”

Only two demolition companies submitted bids to do the work, with Shireman Excavating coming in with the lowest bid.

Nyberg says he hopes North West Street can be opened sooner than later, but that will depend on what they find once the debris is cleared and they can get a better look at the structure.