Exploring neighborhoods that needed improvements.

Revitalizing neighborhoods 

Jefferson City’s architecture tells many stories. From different areas, neighborhoods, the riverfront, and the areas surrounding the Capitol, we can gather important information and history from these structures. There is value in these acres of the past and potential in how the city moves these improvements forward for the future. Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin feels that revitalizing these buildings needs to be a top priority of the city. 

“There are very strict property rights laws, and rightfully so”

Carrie Tergin

“It is such an important piece of our city’s history,” Carrie says. “The architecture and historic structures that remain are so unique, and frankly, irreplaceable.” 

“There are very strict property rights laws, and rightfully so,” Carrie emphasizes. “Following those rules has definitely made it a waiting game.” 

Jefferson City follows the appropriate protocols, making it seem like attention is not being paid where it is due. Many of these situations have limitations that can only be solved with time and due process. 

Capitol Avenue 

Capitol Avenue provides one of the more important windows into the history of Missouri’s capital city. Yet, some of these historical panes are broken with the properties that are too far gone to save and restore. Several of these old homes are condemned, labeled as “dangerous” and “blighted” as if they have no value left. These descriptors are far from being true. Following the devastating tornado in 2019, many of these already dilapidated buildings fell more into disarray. 

In the Capital Avenue area, alone, there are 123 buildings that violate city codes. Of those structures, 101 are over 35 years old, 88 are more than 90 years old, and 42 have been standing for a century or longer. In the last decade-plus, more than 100 of these buildings had no increase in property value and 35 of them have decreased in value by 2.6% annually or by 18.4% overall. This totals to more than $778,000 in the assessed value of these properties. The 14 properties whose value did increase accounted for $262,210. 

There were several attempts by the city to purchase many of these historic properties. After no luck consorting effort from current homeowners, the city was left with little choice but to evaluate each building for eminent domain. This lengthy and tedious court process could be the only way to bring life back to the area, though it won’t be a guarantee for most buildings. 

In most cases, demolition (while expensive) is the city’s most pragmatic economic option for many of these buildings when compared to renovation. Restorations to these properties must match a list of architectural elements that reflect the historic time periods featured in the structure. These styles include: Art Deco, Craftsman, Classical Revival, French Colonial, Mid-19th Century Late Victorian, and late 19th and 20th-century Classical Revival. Details from windows, roof styles, the number of stories, type of brick or stone to more aesthetic details are determined by the definition of the structure’s reflected style. 

“It has been extremely successful. This event shows that it works.”

Carrie Tergin

The revitalization of this area will come down to those who are willing to invest in it. These acres can be used for single-family and multi-family residences (up to four building units), loft apartments, small businesses, and retail establishments. Restaurants, large retail (over 2,500 square feet), and drive-thru are prohibited. 

Revitalization updates will continue to move forward when the eminent domain process passes. However, there are several other neglected structures in Jefferson City that come to mind when updates are concerned. 

1716 Four Seasons Drive 

One of the first structures added to the city’s list of dangerous buildings post-tornado was 1716 Four Seasons Dr. Located between Christy Drive and Tanner Bridge Road,  you can still see the remains of the former Missouri Career Center as it still sits untouched due to an ongoing dispute between the property owner and the insurance company. The two parties have disagreed on the condition of the building and if it can be restored to integrity. It is required by ordinance that a portion of the insurance proceeds be given to the city until the property is returned to a safe condition or is demolished. The funds would be returned upon completion, yet no insurance has been paid out. 

“The cost to demolish would be extremely expensive,”

Sonny Sanders

According to Sonny Sanders, director of Planning and Protective Services for Jefferson City, if the property owner does not comply, the city then may use the insurance proceeds to restore or demolish the building. They will then either return the remainder of funds for the special tax bill or for any expense not covered by the insurance proceeds. 

“The cost to demolish would be extremely expensive,” Sonny says. “The city is in constant contact with the owner and insurance company.” 

200 East High Street 

When the west wall of 200 E High Street collapsed in 2018, no one could have expected the cleanup process to take so long — especially in such a busy downtown area. The crumbling building’s damage was visible to all. One reason demolition took longer than planned is that everyone involved had to consider the pertinent updates while rehabilitating this structure and how they would affect the adjoining property. Demolition of the remaining two walls of the building occurred 22 months later in April 2020. The remaining wall, which supported 202 E. High St., was evaluated by the city to ensure what precautions needed to be taken for it to remain structurally sound.  

1510 Jefferson Street 

The Truman Hotel, formerly the Ramada Inn, has been out of business since November 2015. Half of the property was updated to build the Holiday Inn Express, but the other half of the parcel sits dormant. This dilapidated structure is visible from Highway 54, and while it isn’t currently in violation of any large ordinances, there are only a few items on the property that have been cited for repair. The most notable violation, in fact, is the signage quality, which is required to be “in good repair, clean, and not faded.” If violations like these aren’t completed within a designated time frame, the city will complete and bill the owners. However, although the property is unsightly, it currently poses no danger to the public. 

So how can we as residents help to improve these areas of our beautiful city? Mayor Tergin says the best way is to get involved is to continue harping to lawmakers about the importance of these updates and to donate to organizations that move the needle forward. She also suggests that if more people begin joining associations like the Historic City of Jefferson, it will give others an avenue to get involved as well.