From the home office:
Unless a buyer comes forward with the money and willingness to stabilize Cupples 7 immediately, it will be torn down in early June.
"Public safety is driving this decision," said Mayor Francis Slay. "Cupples 7 did not have a good winter, and City engineers believe it is now an imminent danger. They are afraid it will collapse and hurt someone."
Today Deputy City Building Commissioner Frank Oswald issued an emergency declaration letter to allow Cupples 7 to be demolished. It will take about a month to choose a demolition contractor and prepare the site. If during that time, someone steps forward with money to stabilize the building, the City can stay the order.
"In the interest of public safety, I must overrule the Preservation Board, which voted in 2011 to deny demolition," said Oswald. "We had hoped Cupples 7 could be saved, but I now believe that it is past the point of saving without a substantial investment."
Engineers estimate that it will take $4 million to $8 million to eliminate the imminent hazard. The current street closures surrounding Cupples 7 - in place since September 2011 - are also putting a burden on nearby buildings and businesses.
Although the City does not own Cupples 7, leaders have tried since November to find a viable buyer who can both fortify the historic building and eliminate the danger and redevelop it , because once a building is torn down, it is gone forever. The City is quickly approaching the time when the building cannot be sa ved, and so far, no one has stepped forward to do it.
Former City Treasurer Larry Williams made a deal with the bank to purchase the property for $850,000 in hopes of preventing another buyer from opening a competing parking lot on the site. The City is now bound by that agreement.
"My office will pay to have the building demolished because of the public safety hazard," said Treasurer Tishaura Jones. "It is my intention to turn the land into green space."
The City is moving concurrently to find a developer and to identify a demolition company to use if no one submits viable plans to stabilize and save Cupples 7.
"It will only be too late once the wrecking ball swings. If a developer is out there, this is the last moment to come forward," said Mayor Slay. "The City's other interest - hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes - can be pursued in court."
About Cupples Station:
Cupples 7 is a seven-story brick building and is the only unrenovated structure remaining in the historic Cupples Station complex, which was built between 1894 and 1917. The buildings were constructed by Eames and Young for Samuel Cupples, a woodenware merchant and business partner of Harry and Robert S. Brookings. The buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Cupples 7 was condemned by the City in 2008.