A little more than a month has passed since a Glenwood, Iowa, property development company purchased the Perry Plaza at 401 First Ave., and demolition of the old Hy-Vee Food Store building is already well underway.
Reed Excavation out of Albia has been at work for about two weeks inside the badly dilapidated structure, according to Rob Reed, the owner of Reed Excavation.
“We started a couple of weeks ago on some inside stuff,” Reed said, “removing wood and like that. Last week the asbestos contractor came in, and he removed all the asbestos. We’re just demoing out the inside stuff first, taking all the old duct work off the AC and the heaters and any of the other wood products that were in there. After we get everything gutted out on the inside, then we’ll start tearing the block down. We’ll probably be another week in there yet.”
Reed said it appeared the building was neglected for many years.
“It’s just been a mess,” he said, standing in the half-inch-deep water covering the whole floor of the former grocery store, evidence of recent storms and a worn out roof. “It was a mess when we got here, and it looks like it’s been just a mess for years. You could tell the frost got into the walls, and it popped the walls out and made them heave. Moisture got into the block, and it started blowing it out, so it shouldn’t take much to bring it down.”
Reed said a contractor specializing in removing and handling asbestos was in last week to conduct tests.
“They took 52 samples,” Reed said of the Iowa Division of Labor-certified company, “and of the 52 samples, only three of them come back that were positive. That surprised me. Hy-Vee must have cleaned it up when they got done.”
He said the company “only found asbestos in the managers’ offices in front and in the flashing all the way around the roof.”
The Perry Plaza was built in 1975. The Hy-Vee Food Store occupied the northernmost commercial space in the strip mall until 1995. The building has largely been vacant since the grocer vacated the property, except for a brief period when an automobile dealership traded out of the building.
DeShawne Bird-Sell, spokesperson for Sell Properties, the plaza’s new owner from Glenwood, was unavailable for comment.
“I guess there’s some interest in putting a restaurant out front,” Reed said. “That’s what the new owner’s saying. So somebody’s got a commitment doing that. I don’t know what kind of restaurant it is.”
About half the commercial spaces in the Perry Plaza are occupied, with Orscheln’s Farm and Home the most recent tenant. Demolition of the old Hy-Vee Food Store might spur new life in the 40-year-old strip mall.
“We’ve already got a renter trying to go into the next building beside us,” Reed said, “so we want to get this tore down so that he can get moved in.”
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