TOPEKA (KSNT) – A north Topeka building at the center of a nearly three-year debate between its owner and city officials finally came down Monday.
Crews hired by the City of Topeka moved in with demolition equipment and were midway through tearing the building down when a KSNT reporter arrived around 10 a.m. Its owner, Dave Jackson, has long stood against getting rid of the building at 911 N. Kansas Ave. since 2019. Jackson bought the property in 2016 after he said it had sat empty for 15 years. In October 2019, he received notice from the city that he had 30 days to demolish the building.
“I’m frustrated because nothing was done for 15 years and the minute I purchase it, here comes the demolition notice,” Jackson told KSNT 27 News in 2019.
The City of Topeka’s reasoning for the demolition order came from viewing it as a public safety hazard. Director for Property Maintenance Mike Haugen said he and another business owner witnessed parts of the building falling off.
“We went out there and I personally saw pieces of roofing falling off and hitting the buildings across the street and also saw evidence of bricks falling into the street,” Haugen said.
Jackson ultimately missed the deadline to demolish the building, a city spokesperson told KSNT 27 News in February 2020. Because Jackson did not fulfill the demolition order, the spokesperson said the city was free to move in and remove the building itself.
Jackson, on the other hand, told KSNT 27 News that he was in the process of filing an application to make NOTO a historic district, which would allow him to get a rebate for efforts to renovate the property. The approval process for that application would have taken up to nine months, and with the building coming down Monday, the application had to be denied.
Jackson said he spent around $30,000 in efforts to maintain the building and cover taxes on the property. He also mentioned the city took bids for the demolition and is paying to remove the building for now, but it is unclear if he will later receive a bill for tearing it down. If so, Jackson said he could face a bill of $183,000.