By Katie Dahlstrom
Not living next to a pile of charred rubble made Steve Sandholt’s Christmas list this year.
But it’s unlikely anyone — even Santa — will be able to grant the Clinton resident’s wish by Wednesday. In fact, it’s unclear as to when neighbors of the Odeon won’t have to live near what was left after a blaze destroyed the Clinton nightclub more than a year ago.
“It’s an eyesore,” said Sandholt, who’s lived next to the Odeon for 37 years. “I’d like to see it cleaned up and turned into a green space. I’d even mow it for whoever ends up owning it.”
Because of the amount of damage from the Nov. 25, 2012 fire, the official cause was undetermined, though the report is clear the fire was not intentionally set. Clinton Safety Director Jeff Chapman said the cause was likely an electrical issue between the first and second floors near the rear of the bar on the north side of the building.
Since the fire razed the club at 80 25th Ave. North, the process to rid the property of rubble has moved slowly and stirred discontent.
“We’ve gotten complaints from citizens about the smell during the summer. It’s not secured. To me, it needs to be abated,” Chapman said.”I think it needs to be prioritized.”
Despite the complaints, the safety issues and the other unpleasantries that accompany the lot covered in scorched building remains, the property remains in limbo. Gordon Carroll and Gary Sawyer, who declined to speak with the Herald, still own the property.
By law, they are required to clean it up, with 10 percent (roughly $29,000) being withheld from the insurance company for the cleanup, Chapman said.
A contractor was hired to clear the property, but was called off after Clinton fire officials determined the contractor wasn’t certified to handle the job because of the asbestos cleanup requirements.
Melinda Lopez, who lives near the Odeon, was happy to see work being done and disappointed when it stopped.
“I thought it was going to get cleaned up and they’d just rebuild,” Lopez said. “I’d really like to see them rebuild.”
The city can clean up the property and then place a lien on it for the costs, but city staff in the Building and Neighborhood Services department don’t know when the city would intervene.
“I don’t know how long it will be until the city steps in,” Battalion Chief Creighton Regenwether said. “I imagine it will be touched on this year.”
While a cleanup estimate is being tabulated, city leaders are concerned about costs. They worry it would eat up a majority of the city’s $100,000 demolition budget. A backlog of more then a dozen properties that need to be demolished already exists and would be have to be pushed aside if the city cleared the Odeon site.
“The biggest problem right now we have is funding,” Regenwether said. “There’s really no money for it.”
In the meantime, area residents such as Sandholt hope for a summer free of burnt building smells wafting through their windows.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “But it would be nice to have it cleaned up by then.”