Former Washington apartment complex to be torn down

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) ? Washington Historic Preservation Commission chair Mary Patterson said the commission was ?sorry to do this,? but that the recommendation was for the council to approve a request to allow a demolition permit for Philedelphia House, also known as Goncho Apartments, at 306 N. Marion Ave.

Patterson said the commission had only dealt with two questions ? if the building was still a historic property and what is the economic impact for the owners if it is demolished or renovated. She said the commission?s findings were that the building still is historic, but did not produce a reasonable income for the owners and wouldn?t unless it was demolished.

?Our job is to protect and to preserve, and in this case that was not possible,? Patterson said. ?We have to accept the reality of things the way they are.?

For the last 18 months, the commission had worked to add to the city ordinance that had formed the commission the ability to review demolition request for historic properties. The addition had only recently passed.

Mayor Jaron Rosien thanked Patterson and the commission for the recommendation. The council unanimously voted to set a public hearing for the issuance of a demolition permit during the Jan. 30 meeting. Also at the meeting will be a public hearing on a development agreement for site redevelopment.

?I know it is a difficult decision sometimes to approve or recommend approving demolition, but I think you said it perfectly,? Rosien said.

Patterson said she had some suggestions on what can be done differently in the future, but said she would bring them to council at a later date.

Council member Kerry Janecek, who serves on the commission, also said the decision had been difficult. He said that the commission was not agreeing to destroy a historical property, but to help the economy of Washington move forward.

Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said owners Andy Drahota and Dave Waite had requested the demolition permit to make way for a redevelopment project. He said the plan is to construct six 2-story town house units with about 1,600 square feet each and garages.

Goncho has been unoccupied since the building was ruled unsafe and the tenants were required to move out in January 2013. A meth lab had been discovered in one of the rooms.

The building had also been inspected and a list of safety items had been given to the owner.