Vacant school in Independence upsets neighbors

Owner says it will be gone by August

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - The owner of a run-down Independence school promises the old building will be gone by the end of July, but neighbors say they've heard that promise before.

The former Anderson Alternative School at East 35th Street South and Evanston Avenue is riddled with weeds, broken windows and is missing much of the roof after a big fire in 2012.

Since 2008, owner Garrison Hassenflu has planned to raze the brick building and build senior housing, but the school remains standing. Hassenflu told 41 Action News demolition will now start no later than July 8 and it will be done by July 31.

Hassenflu said funding obstacles and restrictions from the city's Historic Preservation Commission have held up demolition in the past.

Hassenflu said he hopes to break ground on the $6 million, 40-unit housing complex by early 2014.

Ron Denney lives directly across the street and remains skeptical. Denney said he's watched countless acts of vandalism and other trouble at the school. He said something needs to happen fast.

"It's just a trash dump. It doesn't help the value of our properties the way it's sitting right now. The city needs to help him or something," Denney said.

City Council member Eileen Weir said because the school is considered a dangerous building, the city could step in and pay for demolition.

She held a meeting Tuesday night with neighbors and said they are split on whether the city should use taxpayer money for the demolition.

Hassenflu said he will submit final demolition paperwork to the city in the next week.

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