Parts of the Village Square shopping center were demolished; city ​​moves to collect debt on property | Local News

EFFINGHAM – A partial demolition of the Village Square shopping center has begun as part of a years-long effort by the town of Effingham to bring the building up to code.

Effingham demolishes the dilapidated loading dock area and offices in the former Rural King suite on the east side of the building.

City-hired AKRA Builders crews began dismantling the portion of the building on Monday, with an excavator and skid steer loader maneuvering through the area.

Preparation work began last week, with crews disconnecting electrical systems and taking preventative measures to ensure that vital building elements, such as sprinkler systems, will not be damaged by the weather.

“Completion of work in the loading dock area is expected to be complete by mid-January,” said City Administrator Steve Miller.

Once the section of the building is completely removed, it will be replaced with a patch of grass, according to Michelle Lilley, the city’s building manager.

The demolition was authorized by Associate Fourth Circuit Judge James Eder on November 23. In the same order, Eder allowed the city to manage the installation of a temporary heating system in the former JC Penney suite to prevent the sprinkler system pipes from bursting during the winter.

“As I understand it, the materials have been ordered,” Miller said, referring to the former JC Penney’s temporary heating system. Merz Heating & Air has contracted with the city to manage this work. AKRA Builders manages partial demolition.

The demolition isn’t the only legal action the city has taken against Cincinnati-based landowner Durga Property Holdings, LLC.

“Currently the city is in the process of filing a lien for the $44,000,” Miller said.

This lien is a debt collection tool allowing the city to raise funds to cover the costs of the project.

“We are concerned about the financial viability,” said Tracey Willenborg, the city attorney.

Willenborg filed foreclosure claims against Durga Property Holdings last week. If she and other debts on the property remain unpaid, the property could be subject to sale, according to Willenborg.

The city spent at least $410,000 on the project, according to Miller. Of this amount, $346,500 is expected to be used for the demolition of the Rural King loading dock, $19,700 to heat the former JC Penney suite, and $44,000 for legal fees.

Upon completion, the city intends to issue further liens to cover project costs beyond the existing $44,000 lien.

“We’ve been trying to encourage them all this time to get the job done,” Miller said. “We are using public money to do the job when they could do it with less money.”

The city has been embroiled in legal cases surrounding this property since April 2018. Previously, the city had informal talks with the owners, Kohan Retail Investment Group, according to Willenborg.

One of the hot spots of contention between landowners and the city is the roof of the Rural King loading dock. There is evidence of significant roof damage to this part of the building dating back to 2013 aerial imagery produced by the county, according to the city’s building official.

The problem is that a protective rubber membrane on the roof has started to degrade, leading to water seeping through the roof insulation and rusting of the metal structure of the roof.

A hole about 20ft by 10ft in the roof of the loading dock is visible in Google Maps aerial imagery taken earlier this year.

Representatives of Durga Property Holding LLC could not be reached for comment for this story, although the project’s architect, Randall Plikerd, has previously criticized the city for taking over the work shortly after permission was granted. the demolition.

“The public has not been served by the city’s actions,” Plikerd said. “We believe the city has created this adversarial relationship.”

Pamela W. Robbins