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No signs of cleanup months after partial building collapse in Springfield

Posted: 8:03 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-09 21:03:18-04
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SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (WTVF) — Frustration continues to mount for one man in Springfield after a partially collapsed building next door forced him to close his business.

There are no signs Soap Brothers on South Main Street will reopen anytime soon because the condemned structure next to it is too unstable and hazardous. Strong winds knocked down the former gun shop four months ago, and sent a wall of bricks crashing onto the adjacent property and destroying McGhee's vehicle.

The property is still covered with piles of tires and bricks but it has also become a dump site for people to throw their couches. McGhee said the business had also been broken into.

"We were on a real thin tight rope so now that rope is breaking but by the grace of God we're holding our heads up," McGhee said.

McGhee first told NewsChannel 5 in an interview in May that he had to let go of his employees and find jobs himself to support his family. He has since found a stable job working for another shop in Ridgetop, but the lack of demolition and cleanup has been devastating.

"It's starting to be a big, big inconvenience," McGhee said. "It took me seven to eight years to build my clientele."

The person responsible for the demolition and cleanup is the owner of the building, James Smiley of Nashville. However, both city officials and McGhee say compliance from him has been close to impossible. Since his building was condemned several years ago, countless notices for him to remove it went unanswered.

Officials sent another warning for Smiley to take action by June 3rd or else the city would tear the building down.

Six days before the June 3rd deadline, buyer Harvey Combs made an offer on the building after Smiley decided to cut the price by more than half to $99,900, according to Combs' real estate agent. Once purchased, Combs would be responsible for the demolition and cleanup.

The buyer had always been interested Smiley's building even before it collapsed last year, but the offer then was declined.

However, despite making the offer in May, the buyer cannot close and complete the sale because there is a pending lawsuit against Smiley by McGhee for damages. That means any plans to demolish the rest of the collapsed building are stalled until the legal matter is resolved.

"We actually put a lean on the building so they just couldn't sell it. We're back to square one again," McGhee said.

The buyer planned to build a mix-used development that could include restaurants and a rooftop bar.

The next Springfield Planning Commission meeting will discuss rezoning the area that would expand commercial use.