A lawsuit filed against the city of Joplin, the Joplin School District and other taxing entities over a downtown demolition project involving adjoining buildings was dismissed Tuesday.
Plaintiff Urban Dwellers LP, a Springfield company, on Monday requested that the city of Joplin be dismissed as a defendant, and did so for the other defendants on Tuesday. As a result, Judge David Mouton in Jasper County Circuit Court on Tuesday ordered the lawsuit dismissed. The dismissal was made without prejudice, leaving open the possibility of refiling a claim.
The lawsuit made claims that the deterioration of the Christman buildings, also known as the Howsmon buildings, at 506 and 508 Virginia Ave., jeopardized an adjoining building, Main Street Lofts, 501 S. Main St., owned by Urban Dwellers. That building shared a common wall with the Christman buildings.
The city of Joplin on May 25, 2018, declared one of the Howsmon buildings, at 508 S. Virginia Ave., a dangerous building after a roof collapse. The lawsuit alleged that tenants of Main Street Lofts and the building itself were at risk of damage and had sustained past damage from a lack of repairs.
The City Council ordered that building demolished, and the other Christman building, the one at 506 Virginia Ave., stabilized with roof repairs and other work that preserves it for a potential new owner who could renovate the building. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are part of the city's downtown historic district.
The Christman buildings were owned by members of the Howsmon family, which formerly operated businesses in them. The buildings were being held by the county as trustee because of unpaid property taxes. There also were bank liens.
The lawsuit was filed against those taxing entities including Dorris A. Boyd, trustee for the Jasper County Commission, as well as Jasper County, the state of Missouri, the city of Joplin, the Joplin School District and the Joplin Special Road District.
"The city’s position is that the lawsuit lacked merit from the day it was filed, and the city of Joplin was not a proper party in the case," City Attorney Peter Edwards said. "We are pleased to see that the case was finally dismissed."
Globe efforts to reach other parties in the lawsuit were unsuccessful Tuesday.
The work by Neal Group Construction and Restoration cost the city $532,455. Owner Jeff Neal has offered to buy the stabilized building from the city, but no decision on that has been announced.