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Housing Authority discusses fate of Buescher properties

Housing Authority discusses fate of Buescher properties

January 16th, 2019 by Nicole Roberts in News

Jefferson City Housing Authority Housing Supervisor Michelle Wessler gives details about the renovation project in Dulle Tower.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

While the Jefferson City Housing Authority hopes to request development proposals for one of Barbara Buescher's former buildings later this week, it also must decide the future of another Jackson Street property.

The Housing Authority plans to put out a request for proposals on 105 Jackson St. later this week, Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch told the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. A date for an open house has not been set, she added.

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However, the structure at 101 Jackson St. may prove to be a challenge.

There are soft spots in several areas of the floor and debris throughout 101 Jackson St., Questch said. The Housing Authority has to evaluate the soundness of the structure further before making a decision, she added.

"It's clear that squatters have stayed there and did what they wanted to it," she said. "Before we open this, we're going to have to decide what to do with it. We have to do something before we have people come in."

The Housing Authority filed a civil suit in August 2017 against Buescher for 101 and 105 Jackson St., as well as against Stephen and Cheryl Bratten for 103 Jackson St. Cole County Judge Dan Green signed orders in December allowing the Housing Authority to take possession of Buescher's two properties. The Brattens voluntarily gave their property to the Housing Authority nearly a year ago.

The Housing Authority held an open house for 103 Jackson St. — commonly known as the Standish House — last week. About 25 people attended the open house, Quetsch said, adding she is "optimistic we will get some good proposals."

Acting as the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority will accept proposals until 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8. It will review the proposals during a closed meeting Feb. 19.

Someone broke into the property at some point, Quetsch said, stealing some items and putting holes in parts of the walls. The Housing Authority discovered this the day before the open house.

"Hopefully someone will have the patience to restore it. I think it can be restored," resident and historic preservationist Jane Beetem told commissioners. "It has a lot of potential. It's a shame the vandals did what they did. That's what happens when buildings are vacant for a long time, but I think it has the potential to be a beautiful building."

Renovations must start within four months of the award, with completion within 18 months, under the redevelopment agreement. After redevelopment, the building must be used as residential or commercial, with occupancy within three months of construction completion.

In November, the Housing Authority agreed to sell 608 E. State St. to Dustin Long of Long Last Remodeling so he could redevelop it.

In a different civil suit filed in August 2018, the Housing Authority hopes to acquire seven additional Buescher properties that fall within the East Capitol Avenue urban renewal zone — 500, 501, 507, 511 and 513 E. Capitol Ave., along with 504 E. State St. and 115 Jackson St.

A bench trial in that case is slated for Feb. 11.

The Jefferson City Council approved the urban renewal zone in 2016 after a study determined the area was blighted due to deteriorating conditions of multiple properties. The zone is bordered by East State, Lafayette, East High — including some parcels on the south side of East High Street — and Adams streets.

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In other business Tuesday, commissioners toured some newly renovated apartments at Dulle Tower at 10 Jackson St.

Quetsch estimated the project completion date would be July 1 but added it seems to be taking longer than originally anticipated.

The Board of Commissioners approved a $797,000 contract with MegAllie Construction Company in June 2018 to renovate and modernize the Dulle Tower Apartments' kitchen cabinets and countertops. The company also replaced lateral sewer lines.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines gave the Housing Authority a $750,000 grant to offset the cost of the kitchen renovations. Capital funding from the federal government will also cover the lateral sewer lines project, Quetsch said previously.

The project budget is currently on track, Quetsch added.