Demolition of condemned apartments proceeds despite objections

Condemned West Cove Apartments on 300 West, St. George, Utah, Jan. 7, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A bid was awarded for the demolition of the long-condemned West Cove Apartments by the St. George City Council Thursday night. This was done despite objections from the late property owner’s family to postpone the measure.

The City Council awarded the $90,000 bid to B. Hansen Construction to tear down the West Cove Apartments, located at 100 S. 300 West. Built in the early 1940s, the eight-unit complex has been given the unflattering nickname of Termite Terrace by its neighbors.

The apartments were condemned by the city in the mid-2000s due to safety concerns. Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, previously told St. George News that the city had tried repeatedly to work with the property owner, the late Richard Cooper, but were never able to reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

While the city and Cooper went back and forth over the property, it continued to deteriorate and become associated with vagrancy, vandalism and drug activity.

Read more: City plans tear-down of condemned, nuisance apartments

Cooper, who resided in the area of Littlefield, Arizona, passed away on Nov. 27, 2014. Shortly afterward, 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox issued a court order allowing the City of St. George to tear down the West Cove Apartments.

Consider an alternative and delay demolition? We’re too far down the road, city officials say

Dan Larsen, of Washington City, was prepared to ask the council to delay demolition during the public comment period of the council meeting, but was denied due to not being a St. George resident. He said he had been authorized by Cooper’s family to ask the council to postpone awarding the bid for 30 days.

During the 30-day delay, a proposal Larsen planned to submit to the city outlined how the property would be cleaned up and a temporary security system would be set up to deter intruders. At the end of the 30 days, a potential construction schedule for the demolition of the apartments would be given to the city, along with a possible preliminary development plan, and a conditional joint venture agreement or purchase agreement for the property.

The City Council members didn’t budge, but instead awarded the bid and said they and the residents in the neighborhood had been more than patient concerning the decaying apartments.

“In our opinion, we’re too far down the road,” City Manager Gary Esplin said.

Esplin said the city had heard from the family about delaying demolition before, but the matter was never resolved.

“The neighbors, to their credit, have been very patient,” Councilwoman Michele Randall said. “I am not in favor of delaying this, (the apartments) have got to go.”

Randall motioned for the bid to be awarded, which was seconded and unanimously passed by the council.

Bad blood?

“(Cooper) fought them tooth and nail all this time,” Larsen said, adding that affairs between Cooper and the city seemed to have gotten personal. “There was very bad blood between him and the city,” he said.

Larsen isn’t related to the Cooper family, yet became involved because he had an interest in the property which is located in the downtown area of St. George.

Larsen originally contacted Cooper about four-five years ago about buying the property, but Cooper wasn’t interested in selling. Nevertheless, Larsen remained in loose contact with the man. He had no idea the West Cove Apartments were going to be torn down until reading it in the newspaper earlier this week. Larsen called Cooper to ask about it and only then learned of the man’s passing. Since then he has been in contact with Jerry Cooper, Richard Cooper’s son, and the manager-director of the family trust that currently owns the condemned apartments.

Larsen said he and the family want to work with the city, but that attempt had been shot down.

The West Cove Apartments are slated to be demolished following the removal of asbestos around the end of the month.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • 375ultra January 9, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Gary Esplin has got to go, St George needs a mayor that’s not afraid to fire him.

    • Richard January 9, 2015 at 7:39 am

      I agree with Esplin abd the city on this matter…but yes Esplin needs to go…he is very condescending when talking and dealing with the public…he is also stuck in the past.

      • Justaguy January 9, 2015 at 9:09 am

        On top of that he is paid WAY too much

  • Evil Twins Mommy January 9, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Yeah enough is enough already 3 _2 _1. go _ get that bulldozer started.!

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten January 9, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I think the mayor and Randall should go! Neither one has done what they said and now Randall is voting to make more strict rules for the ambulance company that took over when she left the city high and dry… Another story for another day… I digress… Those apartments should have been demolished years ago! The family that owns them is acting now, WHY??? Yeah they are an eyesore and have so many building code violations, I’m surprised they didn’t burn down! Anyway, bulldoze em!

    • David M January 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      Left the city high and dry? you may want to read up on the whole Dixie ambulance fiasco that amounted to a company that had loyally served the community being destroyed for the benefit of a politically connected company.

  • koolaid January 9, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Wasn’t the property for sale years ago but the asking price was a ridiculous amount? I can understand why the family is wanting to further delay demolition. It will cost them money.

    • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Ya, $90,000

      • Koolaid January 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm

        I seem to recall a for sale sign at the driveway for about $1M. Somebody thought they wuz sitting on a gold mine…. fools gold.

        • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 11:44 pm

          Are you serious….$1million dollars for a condemned property lol…that’s a bit much.

          • Koolaid January 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

            Maybe hoping the city would buy it?

  • tc rider January 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

    O-danny larson boy, the bells of saint george are ringing, it is really somthing how these realty welfare cases come a craawling out of the woodwork, the owners family or danny larson should pay saint george and the neighbors of the property a huge inconvenience fee, plus the back taxes, and lets see how long danny larson boy hangs around. go back to arizona danny larson boy, you ponzi scheming bottom feeder.

  • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

    The property owners family had plenny of time to renivate or do somethin…Demolish it!!

  • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Haha plenty*

  • Kyla January 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Out with esplin. I don’t see why he had to be so dismissive of an investor’s interest! Now what is going to happen after they demolish it? 90k and a disinterested investor later, only weeds will grow there?

    • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Great point. I agree.

    • koolaid January 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Where are all those feral cats going to live? People here are crazy about feral cats. Maybe we should have a fundraiser to keep this place intact for the feral cats and stray dogs. Save the feral cats’ home. Give now!

  • me January 9, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Long overdue. I feel for the neighbors and neighborhood.

  • Don Jose January 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    I’m a friend of the family who owns West Cove. True the apartments look bad and need to get torn down or renovated, however Mr. Cooper passed away on Nov. 27th. His funeral was Dec. 12th. His family has only had a few weeks to try to ask the city if they could work out a sale of the property, or maybe salvage the frame of the building. It would’ve been nice if they could have chosen the contractor to demolish them, and not the city’s price of 90,000. FYI… He tried to resolve the issue with the city back in 2008, but the city said the apartments were condemned and he was formally locked out, and was not allowed to fix them. I really do feel bad for the neighbors due to ugliness of the apartments, safety issues, and vagrant issues, but the 14th Amendment protects our due process and property. I believe when the judge ordered the demolition, Mr. Cooper was in his last days living with terminal cancer, and couldn’t make it to the court hearing. Mr. Cooper would never allow anyone of his family members to help him with the apartments, or they would have. I just find it funny that, the city fought him for 8 years over the apartments, and just over a month after he dies, they are quickly coming down. I don’t fault the city, or neighbors for being frustrated, but so everyone knows, the family left behind to clean up Mr. Cooper’s mess in just as frustrated that they have no say in the 90,000 lien. Those are my two cents for what its worth.

  • Oh Really? January 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Right. The property owner and the so called would be “investor,” have been sitting on their hands for years. Suddenly, when the city finally decides to do what should have been done years ago, they start sniveling and whining. I know the city couldn’t do it without a court order, but that order was way too long in coming out.

  • Rev. Aljesse Jacksharpsont January 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    We need to get rid of the good old boys. Turn this town over to some new folks that has left their communities far behind. I’m sure the ares in which they have left are way worse off. If you notice all the inner city mayors are new some what speaking and they have really improved over the years. So let’s all get on board now and make a change. Boy that sounds familiar. It is because of the folks that we can improve our lives if and when we let the folks of their own kind run and support the cities in which they reside without the influence of those of whom has oppressed and degresed and recompressed all those of them whom will be here to far created with out malice or palace infringement of them there a equal rights with out of sights and reject the simplicity needed in change.

    • Evil Twins Mommy January 9, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Say what.? LOL blah blah blah yada yada yada this is an article about abandoned property. LOL.! did you want some cheese to go with you whine… oh by the way. LOL.! what are your thoughts on the abandoned property. LOL.!

  • BunnyRabbit2015 January 9, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Liberals were hoping to convert these into more section 8 housing. Gonna need a lot of crying towels now 😀

  • dasawx January 9, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    the name Richard Cooper raises many memories of building without a building permit!lets let him rest in peace!

  • dghws January 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

    These have been an “eyesore” and/or nuisance property for about three decades not the almost almost ten previously reported. Talk to the old time residents of 300 West….time to go.

  • bw January 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    apparently the owner only died less than 2 months ago so the family had no time to do anything with it don’t it take 6 months before all the wills and everything goes through the court systems some one jumped at the chance to have them demolited as soon as the guy died

  • ladybugavenger January 11, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    We all agree its messed up. So, how about the city paying for the demolition and taking ownership of the property and not charging the family $90,000. I don’t know the value of the property but if the value is more than $90,000 then the owners sell to an investor, pay the city back $90,000 and get out with a profit. But either way, relieve the $90,000 burden off the family

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