Neighbors of a building at 1106 W. Lexington Ave. in Independence are displeased with the structure that has been said to be dangerous.
It once housed the Monte Parker Printing business. Before his passing, owner Monte Parker donated the building to the Community of Christ church located nearby.
Elisa Breitenbach has lived next door to it for 11 years and said it’s caused her problems. At the north portion of the building, a gutter hangs to the ground and the roof has a hole. In the past, homeless people had been in and out of the building before it was finally boarded up, Breitenbach said.
“When you drive by the building, you don’t give it a second thought,” Breitenbach said. “But if you drive up to the building and look at the building, and see how bad it is – it’s ridiculous.”
“When I bought my property, the building was condemned, and I was told the city of Independence would bring everything up to code and everything would be nice around my house. I figured they would fix it eventually, but years have passed, and nothing has happened.”
After Breitenbach pleaded with the city and the church to demolish, sell or renovate the building, the city is taking action. According to Steve Graffeo, the counselor to the presiding bishop of Community of Christ, the north portion of the building will be demolished by the city’s Community Development Department, while the brick portion will preserved.
The north part is what Graffeo calls “the problem piece.”
“We put together a plan with the city and the Heritage Commission to the demolish the whole building,” Graffeo said. The commission “was not interested in demolishing the whole thing because of the look of the Monte Parker brick building has. It’s something they want to preserve.”
“We are in discussion with them on option B, to demolish the back side of the building. It’s an addition that came years ago. It’s got the deteriorated wood at the top. We got verbal approval, but not final, that the city would be OK with us demolishing the back piece.”
Graffeo added the brick part will be sealed and the church has no current plans for it. He said it might be put on the market after the back side is destroyed.
‘I think we’ll demolish the backside in the next 30 to 60 days once our plans with the city are finalized,” Graffeo said. “The front brick structure is sound and sealed and not a problem.”
But the north side was. According to Breitenbach, there were times when people dumped their tires and a mattress at the property. She discussed her concerns with the church and the city. She also posted her concerns on Facebook last August, which she said had close to 100 reactions and comments. Local TV news picked up on it too.
That started a sequence of events that lead to the decision to demolish the “problem piece,” according to a timeline written by the Community Development Department.
“When a reporter came out and released the pictures of it, all hell broke loose,” Breitenbach said. “When they let those pictures of the roof and everything, people were really angry. They just couldn’t believe how bad thing was.”
Graffeo said he hopes those problems will be remedied soon after the back side is destroyed. As for the brick portion, City Council Member John Perkins, who has been working with Graffeo on the issue, has tossed around some ideas.
“We would like to see that old Monte Parker building get some good reuse out of it,” Perkins said. “As part of the city, I was helping out to see what we could do with that building.”
“We took a tour of it to see what it could be used for. It’s a great historical piece. It would be a great place for a shop or an office.”