City deadline passes on crumbling Zandt building

Additional blocks fell off the west wall of the Zandt building onto Wind Street, early morning July 4

The demolition of the downtown Zandt building is one step closer.

The council had a special meeting Monday night to consider bids for asbestos removal and demolition of the Zandt building at Second Avenue and Wind Street. More blocks crumbled off the west wall’s south corner about 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 4.

 “It is continuing to separate to the point where I don’t think there should be any question,” said Jeff Pederson, city administrator. “Everybody’s indicated that left to itself, it’s going to crumble.”

Details of Monday’s meeting weren’t available by press time.

The council also had a special meeting Friday afternoon during the town’s sesquicentennial celebration in time to move the street dance off of Wind Street where the building is failing. The meeting required that council members change the address of the street dance so that patrons of the bars on Wind Street could carry their beverages to the dance on Second Avenue. It also allowed the bars to use portable carts outside at the street dance if they wanted to.

Those who attended were allowed to walk in the area of Wind Street that wasn’t fenced off to protect property from any potential falling blocks.

Dewey Muth, owner of Fat Boys said the bar needed a good night of business after all of the issues with the building next door. He wondered why the city didn’t shut down his business because of the danger of the crumbling block.

“How come I’m allowed to stay open when I’m two feet from the problem?” he asked.

Pederson said the city is leaving that decision to individual businesses.

“Fat Boys has the ability in their own rights to shut down if they wish to,” he said. The latest collapse has left joists sitting on air. “If there’s going to be a collapse, it’s going to come down in the corner right in the direction of the bar.”

Alderman Jason Unger said the city has to minimize traffic on the street, and the dance was moved to minimize risk.

“When it came to basically shutting down business, that’s something we don’t want to do,” he said. “The city’s goal is to let the business make their decision and stay open if that’s the right decision.”

The Riverside Park Days committee, which sponsored the street dance, said they could have postponed it, but the group decided not to do that because of the large number of people in town interested in attending.

“This is incredibly inconvenient,” Unger said of businesses that have been hurt by the restrictions because of the crumbling building. “The whole point of the event is to get you guys some business down there.”

Mayor Mark Bonrud said he understands that the situation keeps getting worse for neighboring businesses. “We’re trying to make the best out of a really crappy situation.”

The city put the demolition work for the building out for bids, and Claflin Excavating of Flandreau submitted the only bid, which was for $172,525. That’s higher than the city’s anticipated $155,000.

Building owner Jim Zandt of Sioux Falls had until July 7 to either tear down or fix the building. Neither has been done. The city now can start asbestos removal, which is anticipated to take place in about a week.

In March, blocks started falling of the building on the southwest corner and visible cracks snaked up the west wall of the exterior. The city subsequently declared the property a nuisance and has been working with Zandt, allowing him to check with his insurance and decide what he wants to do.

The city has been renting fencing to keep people away from the building, in case it should fall or pieces should come off. The city moved the fence even farther out during the street dance. The cost for the fence is estimated to be about $4,000.

In other city business,

  • Fifteen unlicensed vehicles have been tagged under code enforcement, and nine have been removed, Pederson said. The remainder must be moved this week or the city will haul them away, he said.

“Where the abandoned vehicles are concerned, that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

In addition, three homes were tagged because they needed painting, but they are now in compliance.

  • The concrete slab on the community safe room, or tornado shelter, being built at Henry and Prospect, needs to be fixed before further construction. The city didn’t accept the workmanship of the surface, which will be ground down and covered with an epoxy. Pederson said it was a surface issue and not a structural issue.
  • The Flandreau Development Corp. will host a community meeting tonight, Wednesday, July 10, about housing, especially whether there is interest in twin homes at Southview Heights or other neighborhoods.

The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

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