WATERLOO — Recent fires are boosting the cost for taxpayers to demolish an abandoned greystone apartment building near downtown.
City officials and demolition contractors have determined it is no longer feasible to use traditional demolition methods on the city-owned “castle” apartment building at 925 Commercial St.
The building will need to be removed as “regulated asbestos containing material,” which is at least twice as expensive and could push the total demolition bill into six figures.
The RACM process requires contractors to treat all of the debris as if it contains asbestos, keeping the site hosed down, wrapping trucks in plastic and taking other steps to prevent potential cancer-causing material from being release into the air.
WATERLOO — A second fire in nine months extensively hurt an abandoned city-owned greyston…
The city bought the nuisance property in September 2014. Squatters have broken in for shelter in recent years, causing a minor fire in November 2016 and a large blaze Aug. 20, 2017.
City officials initially plotted to use traditional methods — removing asbestos and and normal demolition — on the ends of the building. RACM would’ve then been used for the fire-hurt middle section.
But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the city could only use that process, which was an effort to control costs, if it could guarantee the fire-hurt part would not be disturbed when the ends were removed.
The city cancelled a bid opening last week for the asbestos removal after contractors viewing the job site said there was no way to make that guarantee.
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Chris Western, a city planner overseeing the city’s demolition program, said staff will evaluate the remaining budget after several other buildings under contract are removed.
“We’ve got to get to (the greystone) this year because it’s just a menace,” Western said. “It’s not just the fires. The police are constantly running people out of there. I place boards on the windows and they’re gone in a week.”
City Council members did approve several demolition projects last week, including:
- A $6,500 contract with ECCO Midwest Inc., of Hastings, Minn., to remove asbestos from a crumbling apartment building on the corner of West Ninth Street and Grant Avenue. A separate demolition contract is expected at a later date.
- A $28,270 contract with REW Services Corp., of Des Moines, to remove asbestos from the former Mid-America Dental Studio at 216-220 Commercial St. Lehman Trucking and Excavating Inc. was awarded a separate $28,630 contract to demolish the building.
The city bought the dental studio for $260,000 a year ago to make more parking for the nearby Cedar Valley SportsPlex, Young Arena and Waterloo Center for the Arts.
- A $38,000 contract with Frickson Brothers Excavating, of Evansdale, to demolish the House of Hope building at 222 Walnut St.
The city bought the house with plans to tear it down for a new All-In Grocers supermarket. House of Hope is renovating a larger building on West Fourth Street to serve as its transitional housing site for single mothers and their children, and the city is working with the agency to ensure those staying at the Walnut Street site are not adversely affected by the go.
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