Preliminary Work Begins Ahead of Lair Demolition

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 16, 2023 at 11:17am

Work has begun on what will soon be the end of an embattled building in downtown Jacksonville.

Crews have started the abatement of any hazardous materials inside the Lair Building located at 234 West State Street. The Jacksonville City Council approved a request for a demolition permit by the Rammelkamp Bradney Law Firm by a 6-4 vote in late November.

The building had been the subject of ongoing structural and legal issues after a portion of the rear section of the building collapsed during a storm in October of 2021, causing major damage to the adjacent Rammelkamp Bradney building.

Koert Brown with Rammelkamp Bradney says following the council’s decision, the firm was able to complete its purchase of the building and has begun the process of eventually raising the structure.

We have finalized obtaining ownership, and the liens have been removed. We want to thank the city for working with us, they have been great to work with on that, and have been very helpful and cooperative.

Everything has been recorded this month, so now they are working on the hazardous remediation for the building. In particular, getting all the pigeon feces and things like that removed because they can’t do any other work until that is completed.”

The City of Jacksonville had roughly $200,000 worth of liens against the building from work to demolish the rear third of the building that collapsed as well as work to shore up the rear section and then exposed sidewall of the Rammelkamp building.

The city along with Main Street and others attempted to find someone willing to take on the project of rehabilitating the building, however, no one stepped forward willing to take the risk.

Brown says the goal is to have all of the abatement work completed on the building by the end of this month, and then not long after the building will start to come down.

We’ve got a demolition contract that is in place and so we are cautiously optimistic that we might be able to get that started here in the kind of mid-March timeline.”

Rammelkamp originally intended to spend up to $500,000 in renovation costs to expand their offices into the building, but estimates came in at more than $1 million dollars.

When the city was unable to approve a TIF request of $500,000, the firm then turned to demolition rather than chance another section falling down onto their building a second time.