The Denison City Council recently gave the owners of four properties additional time to bring buildings up to city code and avoid demolition. The properties that were discussed as unsafe and a nuisance include two residences that had previously caught fire and a 15,000 commercial building located along Austin Avenue.
The commercial property, located at 2301 S. Austin Ave., is a large building featuring multiple individual commercial units. The building was previously declared unsafe after it was left open following vandalization in 2015. The issues were then resolved after owners boarded up and secured it. However, issues at the site have persisted over nearly three years and a change of ownership, city officials said.
“The property is not weather tight, it is open, creating an attractive nuisance and it has some problems with the roof,” building official Betty Floyd said. “Staff is requesting council to declare this as an unsafe structure and order its removal.”
As part of the hearing on the structure, city staff presented interior shots that showed what appeared to be collapsing ceilings, damaged and broken sheetrock walls and other various damages to the structure’s interior. Floyd said the building was open when city staff went to document the damage.
Property owner Amna Alsarabi said she was unsure how the pictures were taken inside as the building was boarded up as recently as prior to Monday’s meeting. As such, she was unsure how anyone would gain entry without forcing their way in. On Thursday morning, a section of the board across the main entrance of the building appeared to be warped and was pulling away from the main structure.
Alsarabi said she is working to get finances in line to repair the project, but said she would be willing to put up a fence around the building until she was able to start repairs. Amir Masri, representing the property owner, said the project is estimated to cost close to $500,000. Alsarabi added that she also is in talks with an architect on the best way to rehabilitate the property.
I’m previous instances when a property owner appeals the demolition, the council will give the property owner 10 days to pull a permit for the work and and six months to complete the project. Given the scale of the project, Alsarabi said she was unsure whether it would be possible to complete in that time frame.
Alsarabi said she was considering renovating the interior units individually and letting the future tenants complete the interior renovations.
“Right, but you can’t leave it this way,” Floyd said.
John Buchanan, former owner of the property, spoke in favor of the request for additional time to repair the building. Buchanan, who owned the property when it was vandalized about three years ago, said the vandals didn’t simply break in the doors — instead, they stole them. Following the initial incident, the property was later vandalized a second time.
The council ultimately voted to table the request and give Alsarabi 30 days to meet with city staff and present a plan for renovations.
In a separate request, the council also tabled a request related to 2211 Woodlawn. City staff said the building appeared to have been the site of a fire and its rear walls and windows appeared to have been removed. Zenon Garcia, owner of the property, said he applied for a permit to work on the site about a year ago, but got sick and only recently returned to the project.
What made this an unusual case was that the residential property was on land that was zoned for commercial. As the property has been vacant for over a year, it would need to fit within commercial zoning if it were repaired, even as a residence.
Council ultimately tabled the item in order to allow the property owner time to discuss options for the property.
In another case, the council gave Thomas Rucker, owner of 512 W. Johnson 10 days to pull a building permit and six months to complete repairs on the structure. Floyd said the property appeared to have suffered a fire and was in need of other various repairs, including replacement wiring.
“The yard can probably fill a 20 yard dumpster with trash and junk,” Floyd said. Pictures of the site showed debris, including a vintage television around the exterior of the residence. Additionally, a staircase to a rear doorway appeared to be missing, leaving a doorway to nowhere.
In its final code compliance case of the night, the council voted to give the owners of 1307 W. Nelson 10 days to pull a permit and six months to complete work on the site.