Jefferson City Council introduces bill to demolish News Tribune building

Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: The Jefferson City News Tribune is moving from its longtime downtown office building at 210 Monroe Street. The building has been sold to the city.
Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: The Jefferson City News Tribune is moving from its longtime downtown office building at 210 Monroe Street. The building has been sold to the city.

The City Council proposed a bill Monday evening to demolish the Jefferson City News Tribune offices at 210 Monroe St.

City staff is recommending the council approve a demolition contract – $305,118 to Premier Demolition, Inc. – at its next meeting April 15, the first council meeting following today's local election.

City engineer David Bange provided information about the bill to demolish what is or was the News Tribune during Monday's meeting.

"It's part of the plan to potentially expand parking and/or the conference center," Bange said.

Premier will tear down the three-story, 12,500-square-foot structure that has housed the newspaper's operations since 1931 beginning on June 1, according to the city's bid packet. The contractor has 45 days to complete the work.

The city also plans to keep the parking lot at 210 Monroe St. in use Sundays, as it is often used by those attending the First United Methodist Church across the street. The sidewalk and parking in front of the building may close.

"Every effort must be made before the end of the work week, to remove any contractor items outside contractor fencing so the parking lot may be used for church parking," reads the bid packet.

The city also plans to use the area for Jefferson City's Fourth of July Celebration July 3-7.

"Contractor operations will not be conducted during those dates. The contractor must secure the site and their equipment during this time. As much of the parking area as possible must be available for public parking during this time," reads the bid packet.

According to the contract, the neighboring Madison Street municipal parking garage is not to be disturbed under any circumstances. Premier will also backfill against Commerce Way.

The city also conducted an asbestos inspection on the building in March and the report states most samples showed contained no asbestos with some asbestos fibers found in the basement's ceiling panels and photography darkroom.

"It was purchased in anticipation of work that would happen with our parking and conference center," Bange said.

The City Council approved the purchase of the News Tribune's office building for $575,000 in November after announcing plans to build a conference center and hotel in its spot; the city will also tear down the Madison Street garage next door to build a replacement parking garage.

Premier Demolition is based out of St. Louis and its website states the company has performed more than 700 total demolition projects to year, with about 30 residential projects taking place each year.

Premier bid against one other company, Ahrens Contracting also out of St. Louis, which submitted $347,777.

The city also contracted Premier in March to tear down the Saddletree factory within the Missouri State Penitentiary.

The contract will go before a vote April 15 after a second read. None of the councilmembers – all were present Monday – had questions.

In other business, the City Council approved:

  • A $70,300 design contract with Barr Engineering, Inc. for a creekbank stabilization project
  • Amendments to the Jefferson City Fire Department's hiring procedure
  • A $337,984 construction contract with Western Specialty Contractors to repair the Jefferson Street municipal parking garage's deck and parts of the structure to the Madison Street municipal parking garage
  • A $76,141 license agreement with SHI to purchase Office 365 user licenses for city staff emails for one year

Three bills remain on the informal calendar: one to remove stop signs on Monroe Street at the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and two bills to construct a new biosolids facility at the water reclamation plant across the Missouri River.

Mayor Ron Fitzwater also recognized staff from the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, the Jefferson City Police Department and presented proclamations of April as "service month" and "fair housing month."

Denise Pittman of the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors also presented the winners of the "fair housing" poster contest:

Fourth grade:

  • Josie Schmidt (3rd)
  • Coraline Durham (2nd)
  • Riley Brown (1st)

    Fifth grade:

  • Mason Kaiser (3rd)
  • Raelynn Marlow (2nd)
  • Lyza Lackman (1st)

    Sixth grade:

  • Vera Boessen (3rd)
  • Evie Long (2nd)
  • Joshua Simpson (1st)

Also, despite not needing to, the City Council was briefed Monday evening on where and how to evacuate in case of a tornado or major storm.

Throughout Monday's meeting, the room was tense while the wind and the rain got louder outside, though despite two sirens going off, Fire Chief Matt Schofield said the storm had passed and Cole County was given the all-clear before the meeting ended.

Before Mayor Ron Fitzwater presented a proclamation declaring April as Service Month to Serve Jeff City and Mission JC, two local non-profits, he joked to them, "we'll take a quick picture and let you go out and find the elements."

During the proclamation, somebody's phone went off with a tornado warning in east Jefferson City. The room went quiet while City Clerk Emily Donaldson checked her phone before Ward 2 Councilman Aaron Mealy pointed out the alert was for East Cole County; Jefferson City is in the northern center of Cole County.

After he presented a proclamation to the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors and the elementary and middle school winners of the fair housing poster contest, Fire Chief Matt Schofield warned some of the parents leaving with their children to be weary of the elements.

"If you're headed east, just please use caution. You might want to give it a little time, the storm is heading east. So just beware if that's the direction you're headed," Schofield said.

Tornado warning sirens began going off between 6:30 and 7 p.m.. and Police Chief Eric Wilde left the room twice to investigate.

While the City Council went through the informal calendar, Fitzwater paused the reading of the bills to ask Schofield to provide an update.

Schofield said he and Wilde were monitoring the weather radar "very, very close" and the Jefferson City area of Cole County was provided the all-clear signal through dispatch just before 6:30 p.m.

"Chief Wilde went down to kind of troubleshoot the sirens at the communications center... still trying to figure out why the sirens are sounding," Schofield said.

He added there is an evacuation plan for the City Council Chambers, though he didn't expect it would be necessary. The room would evacuate

"Should we need to, our plan would be to evacuate this door and cross over the hallway and to the immediate right is an unmarked staircase, that's the hardest area of this building so we could fit everybody here in that stairwell," Schofield said.

The meeting adjourned just before 7 p.m. and as the council members walked toward their car, the tornado warning was still going on.

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