Chariton Building Crumbles But City Says it Could be Blessing in Disguise

CHARITON, Iowa -- One of the oldest buildings in the Chariton town square collapsed early Wednesday morning. However, many say they aren't surprised by the rubble.

City officials say the building had been vacant for years and the property owners are both in a nursing home.

Without the owners maintaining the building it fell into disrepair. Some in the city say that with the building already being an eyesore, this could be a blessing in disguise.

“We were discussing Monday night what we wanted to do with the building. With the building collapsing it's helped make up our minds what we're going to do. Somebody might want to buy the lot and put in a new business because we're always looking for new business to come down” said City Councilwoman Ruth Smith.

City Manager Joe Gaa says other rural towns with old town squares are dealing with the same problem.

“We're not unique. It seems like on a weekly basis you see something in the news about a building collapse in a small town. It's an obstacle we're dealing with and finances are always the issue” said Gaa.

With more and more people leaving town to do their shopping, Councilwoman Smith says most small business in town are just trying to survive, let alone keep up on renovations.

“I think people try to support the local town as best they can but it just can’t supply with everything you need” said Smith.

“A building operates until they can’t operate anymore as a business and then they close it up and the building is still here; but none of the family members are here and are not really able to attend to it” said Gaa.

The city is negotiation with the elderly couple who own the building on demolition cost, estimated between $75,000 and $80,000.

The city wants to acquire the lot and get it primed for redevelopment.