Hearing held on demolition permit

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


On Tuesday, the Washington City Council moved ahead with several actions that pave the way for the demolition of Philadelphia House, also known as Goncho Apartments, at 306 N. Marion Ave. to make way for a redevelopment project.

During a special meeting to discuss the budget, the council held a public hearing on the demolition permit. During the hearing resident Evie Richardson asked based on curiosity what would keep the building from being used as it was, although she did not object to the permit. She asked if it was due to contamination or if the building was too run down.

?Ultimately methamphetamine inhibits the ability to rehab,? Mayor Jaron Rosien explained. ?Also there were valiant attempts made by Hobart Restoration and the state of Iowa with tax credits ? basically every attempt to reach the facility was pursued and it was not a viable project economically. Now we have a great plan in front of us and we are still working through the procedure to approve a demolition permit.?

Richardson said she was surprised to learn the building was historic, saying that it had always seemed run down during her time in Washington. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said the process was due to the building having been a contributing building in the downtown historic district. He also said the building had roof issues and serious code violation issues that would have had do be addressed before the building could be considered inhabitable.

?We are definitely talking hundreds of thousands of dollars ... and that would just get it back to the condition it was in when it was occupied,? Hinson said.

There were no further comments. The council then approved the demolition permit. Council member Brendan DeLong abstained with conflict.

The council also set a public hearing on a revisal of the city?s urban renewal plan ? another portion of the project ? and a public hearing on the development agreement for its Feb. 6 meeting.

Owners Andy Drahota and Dave Waite had requested the demolition permit to make way for a redevelopment project. He said the plan is to construct six 2-story town house units with about 1,600 square feet each and garages.

Goncho has been unoccupied since the building was ruled unsafe and the tenants were required to move out in January 2013.

A meth lab had been discovered in one of the rooms. The building had also been inspected and a list of safety items had been given to the owner.