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Why a plaza damaged in Joplin tornado is still standing - KOAM TV 7

Why a plaza damaged in Joplin tornado is still standing

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Many Joplin residents continue to show their strength by rebuilding after last year's tornado.  But a few buildings remain, almost untouched since the May 22 tornado.

Residents we talked with today say one area in particular symbolizes weakness from destruction, a building at 15th and Range Line.  A notice by the City of Joplin shows this strip mall in front of Walmart is a danger caused by a disaster.

While nearby businesses have rebuilt since the tornado, this building hasn't even been demolished.

"Every once in a while, like this, we have to dig a little further and try to use a little more knowledge of companies, and how they're set up and established," says Steve Cope of the City of Joplin.

Tax documents and state forms show the building is owned by a company called OZH Incorporated.  The companies owner is in Forth Worth, Texas but there's a listed company agent in Springfield, Missouri.

Neither returned our phone calls.

According to the City of Joplin the strip mall was recently put on a demolition order by the city.  The building would be torn down at the property owner's expense.

"It's taken longer than we would hope," Cope says.

City officials heard from a demolition contractor who says there was an ongoing dispute over insurance.

After the demolition order was issued, the city heard the building owner is now ready to move forward.

"According to the contractor, when I asked him, he said that they had at least come to an agreement on the demolition value and that got him, so he could move ahead," says Cope.

The building could still forcibly be demolished.

City officials expect the strip mall to be demolished with the next week or two.

You may have noticed other buildings that still need demolition.  Many of the owners are also in dispute with their insurance companies.  But city officials say, beginning now, they want at least the demolition costs to be worked out.

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