Commission approves historic building demolition request

Chad Frey
The Kansan
This garage, which was listed as contributing building in a historic district, will be demolished after approval by the city commission.

Joey Hrenchir has wanted to tear down a dilapidated garage on his property since moving into 207 E. First  about three years ago. 

"It was uninsurable at the time of purchase," Hrenchir said. "It is in very rough shape and not safe to be in. I have three little daughters I have specifically instructed to stay far away from it."

Unfortunately for him, part of the buidling — the original construction — was listed as a contributing building within the McKinely Historic District, meaning it wasn't as easy as picking a contractor or renting some equipment and going to work. 

He had to apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for permission to make those kinds of changes. According to state law, the preservation commission was required to deny the request. 

"So, according to state statute, [the historic preservation commission's] hands were tied, and it is only the five of us that can do anything about it," said Leroy Koehn, city commissioner. 

He was able to appeal that decision to the city commission, and the preservation commission instructed staff to assist with that appeal. 

The commission took up that appeal this week at its regular meeting, and granted Hrenchir's request. They did so on a night they established Historic Preservation Month for the month of May. 

The building is a mult-door garage, with and addition to  the building constructed in the 1970s. The original building is believed to date back to the 1920s. 

At the April 15th Historic Preservation Commission meeting, five of the eight  HPC members were present, and were in agreement that the building was beyond reasonable repair.