Tedious Process of Lair Demolition Begins

By Jeremy Coumbes on April 11, 2023 at 3:08pm

A well-traveled side street in downtown Jacksonville will be closed for the next several weeks as the demolition of a much-beleaguered building gets underway.

Workers with Jaren Industries of Springfield have begun the process of tearing down the Lair Building located at 234 West State Street.

Community Development Director for the City of Jacksonville, Brian Nyberg says the new owners of the building, the Rammelkamp, Bradney & Associates Law Firm which shares a common wall with the Lair, got the go-ahead for demolition last week.

Several months ago the City Council voted to transfer the lien to Rammelkamp and their interest was to take the building down. Jaren Industries from Springfield has been the contractor they have to do that and they got approval from the EPA, the permitting from the EPA last Thursday.”

During the overnight hours in October of 2021, the two-story rear section of the building collapsed during a heavy rainstorm, badly damaging a portion of the adjacent Rammelkamp Bradney building.

After more than a year of uncertainty surrounding the building’s future, the remaining three-story section of the building will be painstakingly dismantled.

Nyberg says West Street between West State and Court Streets will once again be closed for several weeks as the work slowly progresses. “They let me know it’s probably going to be four to six weeks. When you get two buildings that are together, they are actually separate buildings and a lot of that work will have to be done by hand. And they will have to be very cautious when they get down to the lower level. They will have to do some footing work probably before the whole building is down.”

In a related move last night, the Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously to rescind a resolution from September of last year when Rammelkamp Bradney was awarded a $100,000 grant from the city’s TIF funds toward the renovation of the Lair Building.

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

When the city was unable to approve a TIF request of $500,000, representatives with the firm said they had no choice but to turn to demolition rather than chance another section falling down onto their building a second time.

Rammelkamp Bradney is covering the cost of the demotion and is expected to construct a private parking lot on the space.