North End residents frustrated by crumbling building

By Abby Hoover

Columbus Park residents are concerned with the state of the building at 521 and 523 Campbell St. after years of neglect.

Just this year, the property owner has been cited for code violations numerous times. On January 21, and again on March 9, 2021, property violations were recorded, labeling it a dangerous building open to entry. It has previously been labeled a dangerous building open to entry numerous times dating back to 2016.

The owner had also received zoning violations for unapproved land use, construction work without a permit, and leaving trash from construction projects in the public right of way.

On May 26, 2021, a code case was opened against the owner for property violations.

An initial inspection was completed on June 8, 2021, of the property at 521 Campbell St. Inspector Traci Redmond found open storage, trash, unprotected surface material present, stair, windows, exterior wall, porch ceiling and porch floor is still in disrepair.

Neighbors say they are cautious when walking under the crumbling balconies over the sidewalk. Photo by Abby Hoover

A follow-up inspection was completed on August 17, 2021. Following the inspection, Redmond reported the violation had not been abated and that she would issue a summons. A court date was set for October 8, 2021.

An inspection that took place on October 8, 2021 found that the property violations had not been abated. The court case, which was scheduled for that date, was continued until December 20, 2021.

On December 10, 2021, Redmond conducted a courtesy inspection with the property owner. 

“The property currently has trash, graffiti, unprotected surface material, peeling paint, and floors in disrepair, exterior wall, stairs, and awning is in disrepair,” Redmond wrote in her report. “The owner has an upcoming court date on 12-20–21 at 2:30 p.m. I will conduct a follow up inspection on the scheduled court date.”

Neighbors worried about their nearby property and their personal safety.

Columbus Park resident George Hague and his wife won’t walk on the same side of the street as the building.

“Large pieces fall off the structure on a near daily basis,” Hague said. “You can see new pieces on the sidewalk and in the street all the time.”

During the week of December 13, high winds tore off pieces of the roof, and shingles, plywood and debris were blowing down Missouri Avenue, making it too dangerous to even walk on the block, Hague said.

“The building is enormous,” Hague said. “When the structure collapses, it will likely damage the historic Holy Rosary Church; the locally-owned Vietnam Cafe; the occupied and well-maintained apartment building adjacent to the east; or all three.”

The building was listed as located within the boundaries of the Holy Rosary Historic District in 2007. With Vietnam Cafe and Holy Rosary Church nearby, the intersection has heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Hague is worried that when the building collapses, people will likely get seriously injured or even killed.

Photo by Abby Hoover

Columbus Park resident Shon Hall has a unique vantage point. He describes the view from his rooftop deck as looking “directly across to the horrible roof at 523 Campbell.” Hall said there have been holes in the roof for over a year.

Hall said he was told the owner roofed the building three or four years ago, but Hall suspects in reality, he put flashing up there that has just eroded over time.

“He just does what he must, when he’s on the verge of being held accountable, just to keep it on the edge of being taken away from him,” Hall said. “He has shown no signs of actually wanting to improve the site. Instead, he’s just letting it fall into disrepair until it will eventually need to be torn down.”

Longtime residents, many who have worked to restore and maintain nearby buildings, see it as a “waste of a neighborhood building and landmark. 

“There is so much that could be done with this site,” Hall said. “I just hope it’s not too late for someone else to come in and actually do something productive with it.”

On Thursday, December 16, construction workers were observed on one of the balconies at 521 Campbell, and a dumpster was parked on Missouri Avenue, making neighbors cautiously hopeful for improvement.

The property was re-inspected as scheduled on December 20. According to the inspector, violation of the porch ceiling in disrepair has been abated located in the front of the property. All other violations are still present.

On December 20, the owner appeared for court. The case has been continued to February 7, 2021. According to CompassKC, the judge requested the owner have the roof repaired and the exterior siding installed at the top level of the building when he appeared for court.

The Northeast News will update this story online when more information is available.

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