A handful of demolition and commercial construction projects were underway Wednesday and in recent weeks in Janesville.

Separate owners had crews demolish two buildings Wednesday: the former Roherty's Restaurant building at 2121 Milton Ave. and a former law office and apartment building in a proposed historic overlay district at 115 W. Court St.

New owners of the former Roherty’s Restaurant site plan to build a 10,000-square-foot strip mall there with room for seven business tenants, said Gale Price of the city’s community development department.

Owners of two East Milwaukee Street businesses—Panda Garden, a Chinese carryout restaurant, and TLLA Insurance—are partnering on the strip mall. Both plan to relocate their businesses there, Price said.

Price would not name a third possible tenant at the building, but he said it is a business that would likely require a drive-up window.

The city approved redevelopment plans for the property in June and is reviewing construction plans for the strip mall. Pending construction approval, the building could be finished by spring 2012, Price said.

The former Roherty’s Restaurant was built in the late 1960s and housed Mr. Steak and, most recently, The Bistro, which closed last year. The property had been in foreclosure and was being held by First National Bank and Trust, Beloit.

Price said excavating crews started tearing the restaurant down Wednesday without first getting a city demolition permit, although he said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had already approved the work.

The city allowed the demolition to continue Wednesday, but Price he said it would likely issue a double permit fee as a penalty.

Meanwhile, a 10,000-square-foot retail center is under construction at 3131 Milton Ave., east of Hobby Lobby. The building is being developed by Adams Property Holdings and could be finished early next year.

An AT&T store now in the Janesville Mall and Aspen Dental plan to relocate there, Price said. It has space for a third tenant, Price said.

Near downtown, owners had crews demolish a former law office and rental property at 115 E. Court St. The two-story brick building was in a proposed historic overlay district.

Two of the building’s owners, Terry Donaldson and Fred Fox, said last month they would rather get rid of the building than have to deal with rules and regulations in a historic overlay district.

The owners had gotten a demolition permit from the city in July. They said the building was in good condition, but tearing it down would save on insurance, taxes and maintenance.

The building was built in 1907 and housed some of the city’s first apartments. By late morning Wednesday, it lay in piles of rubble.

The owners have suggested they could turn the site into a parking lot for another of their properties, One Parker Place, but Price said Wednesday that the city has not approved that use.

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