A 30-day demolition order for a downtown building was approved by the Weatherford Building and Standards Commission last week.
The building at 111 College Ave. — where the old downtown movie theater called The Plaza Theater was once housed — was deemed unsafe and unsalvageable following two inspections, as it has sat abandoned for years.
“This is a case that’s not only been an eyesore on the square but once you get inside of it you can really see that it’s not in shape where the city would be safe or comfortable allowing anyone to use it as its intended use for commercial or to have people in it,” Weatherford Planner and Deputy Code official Lidon Pearce told the commission. “It is secured at this time, but the staff’s recommendation on this one is demolishing the structure.”
The building, which is next to Downtown Cantina, has been boarded up, and during a walkthrough Pearce said there is no lighting, the floor is deteriorating, the wood fixtures are rotting and there are holes and breaks in the walls and ceiling.
Pearce said the owner, Stephen Schattner, has submitted a demolition permit to the city.
“[The owner] told us some of his intents of the property, what he intends to do with it, which seem to be good intentions but there’s not a lot of movement,” Pearce said. “A structure that’s continuing to decay from the inside, it’s just a problem that the longer it gets sat on, the more concerned I am and the city is that it could become some kind of safety risk.”
The building does not have a historical dedication, so the ultimate authority sits with the building and standards commission.
“Because there’s nobody monitoring the property on a regular basis, it has the potential to become severely worse,” Pearce said that because nobody has been monitoring the property on a regular basis, it has the potential to become severely worse and thus, a safety hazard.
“I recall three years ago when we had another building on the square where the wall fell out into the street, so I would assume that’s always a possibility with a building this age,” Building and Standards Commission Chair Allen Beadel said.
Following the demolition, Schattner will have to maintain it while moving forward on either selling the property or constructing something new.
“He would have to do everything that any other property owner in the city would, there just wouldn’t be a building there anymore,” Pearce said.
Beadel added, “The adjacent property owner basically has no responsibility in the demolition. So anything to ensure that the current interior wall becoming an exterior wall, making sure the integrity is maintained, all of that will be the responsibility of the property owner of the property that’s being demolished.”
Beadel along with Pearce said demolition is always a last resort.
“I can only speak to what the owner’s told me, but what he told us the last time we did the inspection is that he intends to rebuild it to the original two-story stone facade, what it looked like originally,” Pearce said. “That’s what he’s expressed but we haven’t seen any plans yet.”
Beadel said he would hope there would be development on the property pretty quick.
“Once the demolition is complete, I would think that property will hold too much value to let it sit vacant for long,” he said. “Anything that happens with that property will have to be approved by the city, so I don’t think it’s going to stay vacant.”