Former site of WW Cab Co. set for demolition

Gary B. Gray • Nov 7, 2013 at 7:31 AM

The long-vacant WW Cab Co. building is about to meet its demise to clear the way for a large flood mitigation project downtown planned by city officials for years.

City commissioners will consider a more than $70,000 bid tonight with Johnson City’s Rainey Contracting to demolish the building at 128 N. Commerce St. The bid includes construction of one new exterior wall for Campbell’s Morrell Music next door.

Owner Dave Campbell has been doing business at the site since 1991, and he and his employees have not only become familiar with dealing with flood damage, but also various construction projects going on around the site.

Besides dealing with flooding, Campbell and his well-established Johnson City business have endured the city’s $3.9 million Downtown Brush Creek Sanitary Sewer Interceptor Project, which meant the tearing up and repaving of the street just feet in front of his store.

“Of course, we’ve had problems with floods for years, and I welcome anything the city does that can help,” Campbell said. “I feel like, finally — after all these years — that it’s coming to fruition.”

Campbell said he spoke with city officials who chose to rebuild what is now a wall that connects the former WW Cab site with Morrell Music. However, the new wall will be moved a few feet off city property onto Campbell’s property. It also will become that building’s new back wall. And, the city will foot the bill.

“They’re going to have to tear down part of our roof when they demolish next door, but I don’t mind paying for that,” he said. “We don’t keep any inventory against that wall. It used to be a lawn mower repair shop. We’ve used it as a place to do little jobs that we couldn’t do inside the store.”

Peterson said portions of the roof from both structures will be removed and Morrell Music will get its new wall prior to the demolition of the cab site.

The city acquired the WW Cab property last year and it hoped to initiate a project that incorporated the U-Haul site into what will be a major stormwater project at perhaps the lowest point and problem flooding area downtown.

In June, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Seeley signed an order ending a years-long legal tussle in which U-Haul claimed Johnson City was condemning and possessing its property primarily for financial benefit and not for a flood mitigation project meant to serve the public good.

The city now has legal access to the low-lying and strategically important U-Haul property — a piece of downtown property on which a flood relief project is planned that likely will result in aesthetic improvements and redevelopment opportunities when the fixes are complete.

U-Haul, which sits near the former cab site and just behind Morrell Music, has until April to find another location. If not, it must pay the city $10,000 for each month that the property remains occupied. However, if the company has not moved out by the end of 2014, it can legally be evicted.

“We have not heard anything from them regarding when they plan to move,” City Manager Pete Peterson said Wednesday.

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