City of Centralia to tear down collapsing building

City leaders review bids

Centralia building to be demolished

CENTRALIA, Mo. - The city of Centralia reviewed bids Thursday to tear down a building constructed in the late 1800s that has housed many businesses. 

The roof of the structure, known around town as the Narragansett Building, collapsed several years ago. It has sat empty on the edge of downtown since around that time. 

The city has been working for years to demolish the building.

"I think we've worked on this for six, seven years now. We ended up, there was an owner, then we ended up getting it from the owner, and the city's owned it. And I think for the past several years, the city's been trying to tear it down," Mayor Chris Cox said. 

Cox said city leaders have concerns about the safety of the building.

"The problem with the building for us and more me always has been that it had collapsed at that point. The ceiling fell in. The roof fell in, part of it did, and then you had freestanding brick walls," he said. "So that's very concerning because the fact is that's a real liability, a real hazard. The last thing we want is someone getting killed, injured."

He also said community members have wanted it torn down for years.

The city bought the building from the previous owner after he had worked to refurbish it. 

"As long as you're showing a real effort to rehab something and you're working on it, the cities, we don't have the right to take something from somebody or file against them to a point," Cox said.

Centralia applied for a Community Development Block Grant for $200,000 to tear down the Narragansett Building and one other structure. Cox said the sense of urgency was lost in communication, which slowed down the process.

"There's a difference between a building being an old building that's just an eyesore and needs to be torn down versus one that's absolutely a liability and unsafe structure," Cox said.

The city received the grant. 

Cox said it will be around two weeks before the city council approves the bid, and he hopes to have the structure torn down by the end of September. The city does not currently have plans for the lot but is taking measures to ensure it can be easily used down the road.

Cox said that work was taken into consideration when applying for the grant. 

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