Historic home set for demolition

Published 5:47 pm Monday, August 12, 2013

The city of Selma will decide Tuesday who will be awarded a contract to tear down the old Stewart, King and McKenzie building on the corner of Marie Foster Street and Selma Avenue.
The building has been abandoned for years and a previous contractor who struck a gentleman’s agreement with the city to tear the place down five years ago, never finished the job, leaving the city and Ward 8 representatives to look for new ways to tear it down.

Ward 8 Councilman Michael Johnson said he wanted the building torn down yesterday. Johnson has pushed the project through the council throughout the summer because he said the unsightly building is a safety issue as well as slowing down Ward 8 on becoming a more prosperous area.

“Really it’s long overdue,” Johnson said of the Stewart, King and McKenzie demolition. “I’m working to see that the city is moving forward on clearing some of these abandoned lots. Ward 8 will never grow until we get rid of some of these abandoned buildings that are falling down.”

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Johnson said he remembers Ward 8 in the past as having everything to offer as far as businesses. He said everything from grocery stores, tire shops, restaurants and industries for appliances — whatever you were looking for, Johnson said, Ward 8 had it “and that is gone now.”

An ad hoc committee will meet Monday afternoon to discuss the four candidates who have sent the city proposals for demolishing the building. Some have offered to tear the once factory down for free.
Council President and previous Ward 8 seat Corey Bowie said he worked to get the old Stewart, King and McKenzie building torn down and made it a priority to do so in 2008 when he was the Ward 8 Councilman.
“But some things broke down,” Bowie said, explaining the person who offered to take the building down for free never finished the project. “I think that it is a detriment to Ward 8, it’s a safety issue and I would just love to see us do whatever we need to go ahead and clean it up.”
He added because of the deal that fell through, he will ask the council to include language in the next contract that would impose punitive damages and fines on the contractor if they did not hold up their end of the deal and finish the demolition.
“I would love to put some language in the contract that, whoever is awarded the contract, that if they don’t clean it up in a certain timeframe, they are fined punitive damages and they will have to pay the city so much if they don’t finish the job,” Bowie said.

The ad-hoc committee will bring a recommendation to the council Tuesday as to who to award a contract to.