Versailles council moves to demolish abandoned shopping center

gkocher1@herald-leader.comOctober 1, 2013 

— The Versailles City Council voted Tuesday to advertise for bids for the demolition and removal of a long-abandoned shopping center on the city's east side.

"It's an eyesore to the interest of Versailles. It's just ugly," said council member Carl Ellis. In recent years, the former shopping center was called the "Rubloff property," after a former longtime owner that allowed the center to fall into disrepair.

The council took Tuesday's action after PBI Bank, which bought the property in foreclosure, did not respond to an order by the city's building and zoning inspector to apply for a demolition permit, City Attorney Bill Moore said.

An Aug. 8 inspection found the property to be "unfit for human occupancy." The inspection found holes in the roof and roof leaks "in countless other places."

"None of the retail spaces can be called dry," the inspection report said. "Some are supporting plant growth from the floors. There is substantial mold and mildew throughout the building. ... Moreover, the building is not secure and has allowed free access to humans, birds, rats and other vermin."

Building and Zoning inspector Paul Noel Jr. issued a "condemnation and demolition" order on Aug. 13. As of Sept. 16, the owner had not applied for a demolition permit.

Versailles Center, north of U.S. 60 and the U.S. 60 bypass, was once home to Versailles Flea and Antique Mall, Radio Shack, Sweet Potatoes restaurant, Slone's Market, Rite Aid Drugs, Rivard Fine Jewelry and other retailers.

Over the past decade, as stores left the center, the property became a source of embarrassment to city officials. There are no stores there now.

There were plans to turn the strip mall into a development with multistory, mixed-use buildings containing both shopping and residential spaces. None of it came to pass.

Moore said PBI could have appealed the demolition order but did not do so.

The city will pay for the demolition. Whatever the city pays will be recouped through a lien on the property. If the lien is not paid, the city could sell the property at a master commissioner's sale, Moore said.

The bottom line, said Mayor Brian Traugott, is that "there will be no long-term liability to taxpayers."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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