Couple hopes to restore deteriorating building near Park Square

Paola City Council members have declared the building at 115 W. Wea St. to be an unsafe dangerous structure, but Thomas and Jennifer Wright have acquired the building with plans to renovate it this year.

PAOLA — A husband and wife are hoping to keep a downtown Paola building from being demolished.

Paola residents Thomas and Jennifer Wright, who recently opened All God’s Paws at 14 S. Silver St., attended the December 2018 Paola City Council meeting and expressed their desire to acquire and restore a deteriorating two-story building at 115 W. Wea St. near Paola’s downtown Park Square.

The building, formerly occupied by Shipman Liquor, has been vacant for multiple years, and city barricades are blocking the front entrance.

In October 2018, council members reviewed reports from building inspector Bill Trout, Fire Chief Andy Martin and structural engineer Warren Schwabauer regarding the building.

Trout’s inspection report listed multiple issues, including green and black mold growing throughout the interior of the building, vegetation growing inside the building, unsafe flooring with openings throughout, structurally unsafe stairs, standing water in the basement, falling exterior brick and other concerns.

Schwabauer’s report listed similar concerns and noted that the mechanical, electrical, lighting and plumbing systems are not functional, making the building uninhabitable.

Martin’s report concurred, stating that the roof was leaking, and structural elements appeared in poor condition, with rot and sagging evident.

Paola City Council members scheduled a condemnation hearing that took place during their Dec. 11 council meeting to give building owners the opportunity to show cause why the structure should not be condemned and ordered repaired or demolished.

The Wrights were the only ones to speak during the hearing, and they said they reached out to the building’s owner. When they were told he has no plans to rehabilitate the building, they asked if they could step in. Thomas Wright told the council members that the owner agreed to sign the building over to them.

“We don’t want to see the Square have any more buildings removed,” Thomas said. “That breaks our heart.”

Council members and city officials encouraged the Wrights to personally inspect the interior of the building before moving forward. They also reminded the Wrights that if they became the new owners of the building, they would then be responsible for making the building safe again.

“We would like to see the building preserved, but it needs to be structurally sound,” City Manager Jay Wieland said.

Thomas said he realizes that issues like mold will have to be taken care of, but he believes the building as a whole is salvageable.

“The four walls seem to be structurally sound,” Thomas said.

The city officials wished the Wrights success in their effort, but the council members also approved a resolution finding the structure to be unsafe or dangerous and directing that it needs to be repaired or removed.

According to the resolution, the owner of the building must commence repair of the property by Feb. 12 and be complete within 120 days of pulling permits. It also states, though, that the City Council may grant the owner additional time to complete the repairs to the property.

The Wrights likely will need that extension. Jennifer confirmed last week that the deed has been signed over and they now own the building, but they are also still finishing up work on their business at 14 S. Silver St.

Jennifer said she’s hoping that she and her husband can renovate the building at 115 W. Wea St. by the end of 2019.

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