The vacant lot at 124 S. Main St. in downtown Ottawa has a new owner.
Richard Wright, owner of the building to the south at 128 S. Main St., said Friday he had acquired the lot from CrossFirst Bank of Leawood.
Wright and Russell and Mary Thomas, the couple that owns the building to the north of the lot at 122 S. Main St., have been in negotiations with the bank regarding damages to their buildings, stemming from the demolition of the three-story, buckling building at 124 S. Main St. earlier this year. Ottawa city commissioners approved the demolition in mid-February.
“The bank didn’t want the lot, and they offered it to the city, the Thomases and me, and I expressed interest in it,” Wright said.
Wright did not divulge the cost of the lot or any other terms of his settlement, other than to confirm he now owns the property.
“Depending on how finances work out, I’d like to put a wrought-iron fence along the front of the property where that false storefront barricade is sitting now,” Wright, who has a real estate office in Overbrook, said. “The building [128 S. Main St.] and the lot are for sale. But if that doesn’t work out, my plan is to put in a garden and patio area on the lot where people could have receptions.”
As part of a settlement agreement with CrossFirst Bank, Wright said the bank paid to have the lot filled. And Wright said he will be working with the city inspectors to make sure the lot is filled and drains properly in front and back. Once the Thomases have had the opportunity to make repairs and winterize the wall of their building that had abutted the demolished structure, Wright said, work to fill in the lot would begin.
Mary Thomas recently declined to discuss any possible settlement, but said she was hopeful they could repair their wall soon before winter set in.
Wright said in an earlier interview he opted to go forward with repairs to his adjoining wall.
“With winter coming on, we capped the top of the roof that was exposed by the demolition,” he said. “We filled in pocket holes where the floor joists went into the party wall and repaired a crack on the front of the building. We’ve sealed up the wall tight for the winter.”
The settlement did not cover all Wright’s repairs to his building, he said.
“Some of that came out of my pocket,” he said.
Wright said the city had been good to work with throughout the process, but he said he wished the bank would have spent the money to restore the building.
“I hated to see the historic building torn down,” he said.
Engineering reports in February included estimates that it would take more than $200,000 to shore up the building structurally, but those estimates did not include the cost of refurbishing the building (ridding it of mold and other hazards) to make it inhabitable again.
Bank officials had said they were not willing to make that kind of investment in the building.