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Historic building crumbling; owner unresponsive to county

Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 16:45:32-04

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. -- A historic building Downtown Clarksville is falling apart. The building built in 1893 on Main Street is crumbling brick by brick, and it's upsetting those who want to see it revamped.

Builder Bill Buckner said, "[It's] sickening. You talk to people in town, and everybody loves this and wants to keep it. It's one of the anchors of the town."

The current owner, Monica Herrera, is accused of ignoring Ionia County's correspondences. That includes a notice that's still posted on the building since last December which deems the structure unsafe.

According to property records online, Herrera who lives in Florida, owes close to $5,900 in delinquent property taxes. Two-thirds of the building belongs to another owner. Buckner, who's working on that portion, wishes it were easier to acquire the abandoned portion.

"Some people think that this back part, end of this building is separated. It is not. This is all one building. So if they were to take this down and condemn it it would be, I hate to say it, a catastrophe. Because it would start tearing into the other part of the building," he explained.

That's where Josh Depew and Farmhouse Pizza are located. Depew, a local himself, said he's put in a lot of time, sweat and money rehabbing the space.

"I just want to invest in the town. So to see us doing all the work here and have something next door to us that could possibly hinder what we're doing here is frustrating," Depew said.

The shop owner said he's also tried reaching the owner of the abandoned portion with no success.

"Staying in touch with the county it just seems kind of like nobody really wants to take much action on it. There's nothing we can do. We're just kind of locked right now," Depew said.

Buckner said, "What we'd like to do is keep it the way it is, restore it, bring it back to its natural beauty, and rent it out and put people in there and bring revenue back in town. So it's a good thing for everybody."

FOX 17 found a working number for Herrera who's listed as the principal of AMO Contracting Incorporated in Florida. A message was left and she has not returned the call.

As for next steps and enforcement, FOX 17 was told to contact Ionia County administrator Stephanie Fox. Fox has not returned phone call or email messages.