MASON CITY, Iowa - It was a top goal set down by the Mason City council last week, beautify the city by fixing or tearing down rundown properties. One building on the north end of town is now facing the wrecking ball.
"It's been in really rough repair. Just a horrible state of disrepair for a long time," said City Administrator Aaron Burnett, who says the Marsden building is unsafe and possibly even a magnet for crime if it continues to stand.
"It tears down property values but also encourages activities within that neighborhood that lead to less safety for the neighbors," said Burnett.
Once the building is knocked down, the city will take strides to ensure the vacant lot is put to good use. Burnett says the location along Federal Avenue should be attractive to developers.
"I think there is an opportunity for redevelopment there and we'll pursue that, see what different options we have and talk to people who have been interested in things like that in the past and see if we can't get it redeveloped and a new building put up in that spot," he said.
Mason City has been going after these derelict properties, first asking the owners to fix them up. If that doesn't work, the city can go to court and take ownership. They're even amending city code to make the process easier.
"It's important that the city have it's code as well defined as possible and really meeting the judge's expectations as far as what should be set out in that and then clearly defining how this property is a nuisance."
The city council took its first step toward approving the change in their meeting on Tuesday night. Councilman Joshua Masson voiced his approval for the rewritten ordinance.
"I like the way the wording has been updated and I think this will be useful," said Masson.
No exact date has been set for the demolition of the Marsden building. The city first has to find out if there is asbestos inside that needs to be removed first.
Burnett also said the city is also focusing on recreation opportunities to attract more residents to Mason City. They want to improve biking trails and make the Winnebago River more friendly for outdoor activities.