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GEO ordered to secure or demolish building on St. Sava site

Updated: April 11, 2014 6:15AM



HOBART — A spokesman for the GEO Group said the company will fully comply with Hobart’s regulations and demolish the building on the former St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church site that it now owns.

The spokesman, Pablo Paez, wrote in an email that he doesn’t know the exact date the building will be demolished, but “we will be moving as fast as possible to comply with the city.”

City officials had sent letters to the Florida-based builder and operator of prisons and immigrant detention centers, stating it must either secure or demolish the building that has been ravaged by vandals and scrappers through the years.

Mayor Brian Snedecor reported the city’s action at this week’s City Council meeting upon request from Tom DuBois, a Hobart resident and active member of Concerned Citizens of Hobart, which opposes the construction of an immigrant center on the former church property.

DuBois said concern about the safety of the property near 49th and Liverpool was raised at one of the group’s meetings that was attended by the mayor.

Building Official Mike Hannigan said GEO told him the company is willing to either secure or demolish the building.

“They’ll get prices for both. Of course, if they plan to build there they’ll need to demolish the building anyway,” Hannigan said.

Paez told the Post-Tribune the company continues to have no immediate plan or timeline to go through any zoning or planning processes to develop the property.

Hannigan said it would be far less costly to secure the building by boarding up the places where the windows and doors once were.

Hannigan said the company will have to make a decision on the building by May 7, when they’re ordered to appear before the Board of Public Works if they haven’t already complied

Hannigan said the building has been unsecure for years, long before GEO took over ownership.

“There was a big storm four years ago that caved in half the roof on the small building. It couldn’t be used anymore,” he said.

He said he had sent letters to St. Sava saying the building needing to be secured, and it was boarded up.

Since then, Hannigan said, scrappers have come in and stolen electrical wiring, copper pipes and set the upstairs on fire. He said they eventually took all the plywood and aluminum from the building and left every window and door open.



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