BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The dilapidated and heavily damaged former Iowan Motor Lodge is very close to coming down according to city officials and the current owner.
Glen Meller, owner of Meller Excavating, is the current owner of the building and has some equipment on the lot of the structure to begin tearing it down.
“We hope to start in the next 10 days or so,” Meller said. “It is our intention to start tearing it down unless something comes up. I’ve got a couple of jobs that may pop up and that might delay it a little bit, but we’re gonna get it down.”
City Building Director Doug Krogmeier confirmed that the city does have a permit at City Hall for the demolition of the building.
“We’ve known for a long time that it was dilapidated. He had five different contractors in there to try and make it cost-effective (to rehab it),” Krogmeier said. “We do have a permit here and he’s submitted to DNR,”
Meller said the city never asked him to tear the building down up until two weeks ago when Fire Chief Joey Herren and Meller had a conversation.
“It was never mentioned by the city to tear it down,” Meller said. “I’ve had structural engineers in there to look at possibly renovating the place, but it was going to cost too much to fix the damage by the owner before me. It was a disgrace how bad the owners had it torn up.”
Meller said he originally had planned on renovating the rooms and opening the facility back up for rooms for construction workers who were working on building the Iowa Fertilizer plant.
“We looked at it with him,” Krogmeier said. ” I don’t know we would have said no if he could have made it cost-effective. But if you have a hotel you have a brand looking after it, but apartments, you just don’t know what’s going on in those places.”
Currently there are broken windows throughout the building, several doors had been broken in, and Meller said after gaining access through the broken doors and windows, trespassers have also torn up the interior walls.
“Inside it’s tore up so bad.”
On several occasions the Fort Madison police department has been called to the location after people had seen kids running from the building.
“We may have to talk with the owner,” Sittig said several weeks ago. “You don’t know what kind of nefarious activity might be going on in there.”
Meller said he didn’t think it would be young kids, but probably older kids and young adults in and out of there.
He also said he was disappointed in the negative comments from the city that had appeared in other articles about the building.
“It was just negative information,” Meller said. “This is why people don’t come to this town..stuff like this. It’s sad but that’s one of the reasons.”
Krogmeier said the city, despite the building falling into disrepair for the past five years, hadn’t pushed Meller to take it down if he could make something of the property.
“We’re just happy that it’s going to come down.”
Meller said after demolition he doesn’t have plans for the property and said no one has expressed interest in the property.