TOPEKA (KSNT) – As crews hired to carry out a demolition order from the City of Topeka worked Wednesday, a falling chunk of the building sent rubble out that hit a car, video sent to KSNT 27 News shows.
The video sent in by a witness across the street appeared to show a construction vehicle behind the building, located at 911 N. Kansas Ave. Demolition crews fenced in the property as a safety measure, but while the fence stretches halfway into the road on the building’s side, the road itself is not closed in either direction. The video showed that when the highest part of the building fell, it sent rubble over the fence and across the street.
Chunks of rubble hit a car parked across the street and also kicked up a large dust cloud in the video, but did not show the extent of damage to the car or the surrounding area. A KSNT 27 News reporter who went to the scene said the rubble chipped one of the car’s windows and scraped the left side of the vehicle’s body. After the dust cloud settled, it also left the car dirty.
The building has been the subject of a nearly three-year debate between its owner and city officials. On Monday, that debate ended as crews officially moved in to begin tearing the property down. Owner Dave 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.
While the notice giving Jackson a deadline to demolish the building went out in 2019, and the city said he missed the deadline in 2020, the city did not move forward with carrying out the demolition until two years later. As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, crews were still demolishing the building, according to the reporter at the scene.