Another downtown building razed in Toledo

The vacant building at 221 W High St. in Toledo was in a state of deconstruction earlier this week as crews from Hatch Grading and Contracting have been working to demolish the structure which sits directly across the street for the Tama County Courthouse. The back of the building collapsed on March 20 and this week the Toledo City Council approved a declaration of emergency allowing the city to demolish the building deemed to be dangerous and a public nuisance. This marks the fifth building along the downtown square in Toledo to be razed since the 2020 derecho. – Photo by Darvin Graham

The impacts of the 2020 derecho continue to reverberate as Toledo is losing a fifth building off the downtown square.

According to a report from City Administrator Kendall Jordan at the March 28 Toledo city council meeting, the south wall of the two-story building at 221 W High St. collapsed on Sunday, March 20 leaving the entire structure in danger of further collapse.

Jordan said it’s believed one of the causes of the collapse was water infiltration from the roof leading to expansion and contraction of the structure as temperatures froze and then thawed over the winter.

The commercial building is connected to the Tama Abstract Company along its west wall and has an alley bordering its east wall.

On Monday the council took action to make a declaration of emergency stating that the building at 221 W High St. had been assessed by a licensed engineer following the March 20 incident and was deemed to be a dangerous building and a public nuisance.

The declaration allowed for the city to contract a demolition service to raze the building, a process that is expected to be complete later this week or by early next week.

The city contracted Hatch Grading and Contracting of Dysart to complete the work. Under a declaration of emergency, the city has the authority to contract demolition services without proceeding through a formal bidding process due to the danger posed by the structure in its current state.

According to Jordan, a rough estimate of the demolition cost is expected to be around $60,000. The cost can be made into a special assessment against the taxes on the property, though city attorney Mike Marquess stated he felt it was unlikely the city would ultimately recoup the full cost of demolition.

The 200 block of W High Street in Toledo has seen a domino effect of building collapses that began in 2014 with a sudden collapse of the upper floor of the building at 119 W High St.

At the time, that building was being occupied by a business and by tenants in the upstairs apartment, though no injuries were sustained in the incident. The 119 W High St. building was demolished later that year.

In 2016 the building at 221 W High St. had the bottom of its southeast wall buckle and partially implode. The city council had publicly expressed concerns about the condition of the property in 2015 but decided against taking formal nuisance abatement action.

The property at 221 W High St. is under the ownership of a limited liability corporation titled Tama County Parcel No 1415455005, which is controlled by Tama attorney Allen Richards.

In 2020, three more vacant storefronts at 109, 113 and 115 West High St. east from 2014 property were critically damaged in the August derecho. The city of Toledo made a similar declaration of emergency to demolish those buildings as they were all connected and the back walls and upper story floors were either fully collapsed or significantly damaged.

The storm also seriously damaged an apartment building at 124 N Broadway St. along the east side of the courthouse square that was later demolished by the owner, who is expected to rebuild on the property in the coming year.

Empty holes remain in each of the lots that have lost downtown buildings, though Toledo Economic Development, Inc. (TCDI) has secured ownership of the three properties that were damaged and razed in 2020 in hopes of promoting future development. TCDI is a local non-profit development organization that frequently partners with the city for housing and commercial development projects.