Why do apartments stand? Contractor, asbestos issues

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Developer says Wesley Apartments will come down quickly after state gives OK

By Todd Martin

With construction of the CVS store moving forward at breakneck speed, many have been left scratching their heads about why the condemned Wesley Apartments remain standing at the corner of U.S. 60 and Freedom’s Way.

“It’s kind of been a perfect storm of issues,” developer Todd Clark said. “First the contractor wasn’t moving as fast as they were supposed to, and then we had some weather issues and now some environmental issues. There was some small amounts of asbestos found in the kitchen floors that we didn’t expect.”

Clark said the contractor is working with an asbestos removal company and waiting for more information from a state inspector.

“We’re addressing how to remove the asbestos and continue the demolition,” he said.

The apartments, among Shelbyville’s oldest and increasingly an eyesore and health hazard, were rezoned in 2009 to coincide with the building of the Shelbyville Bypass and were closed not long after that.

The area then sat vacant until earlier this year, when CVS started clearing the lot nearest U.S. 60.

CVS committed to the location after purchasing the Smith-McKenney Pharmacy and since taking over in September has operated out of Smith-McKenney’s location in the Village Plaza Shopping Center.

“Now with the pace that CVS is moving on their building, it’s restricted our ability to gain access to the back of the property,” Clark added.

Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said he has tried to remain in contact with Clark about the demolition and stressed that it couldn’t come soon enough for the city.

“We’d like to see them gone tomorrow, but yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough,” he said. “We’re trying to accommodate them as much as possible, but we’re ready for them to come down now.”

Clark agreed.

“Once we hear from the state inspector, it won’t take more than two weeks to clear the buildings,” he said. “We’re just kind of in a holding pattern right now.”

However, despite the demolition’s holding pattern, Clark said he has been receiving some calls about the back portion development, although not from a company that for years has been rumored to be a coming tenant for the property.

 “We have several people interested in a one-point-three-acre lot directly behind the CVS location, but nothing I can discuss right now,” he said. “But I can confirm that unfortunately we have not been contacted by Chick-fil-A. That doesn’t mean we won’t, but we haven’t been at this point. That’s a rumor I’ve heard quite a bit.”

Clark said whatever kind of business makes a deal with him first likely would determine what action he takes with the rest of the property.

“Three fast-food restaurants could call, and we could accommodate that,” he said. “Or a retail outlet that could anchor a strip mall could call, and we’d build from there. Our plans are fluid right now. It will just depend on what businesses are ready to make a commitment to the property.”

And until then, he said he will focus on bringing down those apartments, clearing space for more development.

Said Clark: “We’re more than ready for them to come down, too.”