Safety issues close downtown building

Jefferson City’s Planning and Code Enforcement Department has closed Leeds Shoe Store, 220 E. High St., after an annual inspection revealed multiple code violations.

The building is owned by Lester Cohen, who didn’t return a call for comment. Cohen comes from a family involved with downtown businesses since at least the late 1920s.

A sign in front of the building says it is for rent or sale and contains more than 7,000 square feet.

The Jefferson City Fire Department inspected the business on Aug. 15, finding code violations ranging from unsafe use of electrical cords to combustible materials not properly stored, Interim Fire Chief Jason Turner said.

He said the Fire Department called the city’s Planning and Code Department for assistance after the inspection. Janice McMillan, the city’s senior planner, said her department found other violations, including electrical issues and water damage that could compromise the structural integrity of the building.

The city posted a sign in the front of the business reading: “KEEP OUT: Uninhabitable.”

McMillan said Cohen still has the option of fixing the problems and reopening the store.

Turner said: “When people hear about us closing businesses, that is a last resort. Our policy is we want to work with you, not against you. We just want the place to be safe.”

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