JANESVILLE

The city of Janesville has ended negotiations with a downtown property owner over how to fix a dilapidated building, and the city now will seek court permission to knock it down.

The vacant building is located at 13 N. Main St. and received a raze-or-repair order in August. City officials announced the decision to end negotiations in the February community advocate update, a monthly news release with brief city news reports.

“After weeks of attempting to negotiate the terms of a compliance agreement, the city’s building director has made the decision to end negotiations with the property owner,” the summary on 13 N. Main St. reads. “A court date is anticipated in March, at which time the city will seek to have the building razed.”

Building Director Tom Clippert declined further comment. City Attorney Wald Klimczyk also declined to comment, saying the city does not talk about cases in litigation.

Property owner Bruce Monson filed a restraining order Oct. 19 against Clippert, seeking to prevent the city from razing the property.

A Sept. 21 letter from Clippert to Monson included in Rock County Court records says because repair plans weren’t made by the Sept. 17 raze-or-repair deadline, the building must be razed by Oct. 22.

The structure still stands, although its rear exterior wall facing the Rock River was removed weeks ago.

Rock County Judge Jeffrey Kuglitsch declined Monson’s petition for a restraining order. Court records show the two sides canceled a November court hearing as they tried again to reach a compromise.

Monson said he was surprised when the city ended negotiations earlier this month, as he was close to submitting repair plans. The move struck him as a “show-of-force kind of thing, show who’s in control,” he said.

A new injunction hearing is scheduled April 12, according to online court records. Monson plans to fight for the building’s preservation.

Demolishing the building will be difficult because it shares walls with adjacent buildings. Its removal would create a gaping hole in the Main Street block, he said.

The structure at 13 N. Main St. is one of four properties that received raze-or-repair orders last year as city officials began cracking down on neglected, vacant buildings.

Crews tore down the former Swanson’s grocery store on Rockport Road last week, the only raze-or-repair building to reach demolition.

The former Town and Country building on River Street downtown has an accepted offer from a new buyer who plans to renovate. The new owner and city officials must finalize the sale and a compliance agreement for repairs by April 1, Clippert said.

Clippert also continues to meet monthly with local developer Jim Grafft over the Monterey Hotel. The Grafft family appears to be making progress with fixes to the vacant former hotel, Clippert said.

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