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Mexia demolition project marks new start for old corner

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Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 00:49:17-05

MEXIA, TX — "Out with the old and in with the new" they say, but sometimes that saying rides like a bulldozer over historic buildings and landmarks.

In Mexia, they bulldozed a building this week with a bit of history, but one that also posed a very real public danger.

City leaders say they made the move as a way to make an investment in their future.

Attorney and former judge Daniel Burkeen cherishes history and he hates to see it crumble or torn down.

"Sad seeing old buildings go, I love to save old buildings and love that's going on in downtown. That one was beyond being saving so it really needed to go," he said.

For a couple of years now Mexia has cracked down on old, dilapidated homes.

The old cleaners and music store across the street from City Hall fell into such bad shape its walls had weakened and buckled some said, and were on the verge of collapse.

The owner had tried working with the city, but in the end had no money to do what had to be done.

”This project is one of those things that we just simply had to do for the community,” explained Mexia City Manager Eric Garretty.

Because the building posed a safety risk, the Mexia city government would foot the bill...a big one.

”My current estimate of the demolition cost is just over $70,000,” said Garretty.

Why was it so much?

The old building had asbestos throughout, so demolition crews had to take precautions like wetting down the debris field with a fire hose to keep dust from circulating.

Later, workers would "burrito wrap" that debris to keep it contained. while special monitors tested the air.

In a lot of cities, folks would see demolition like this as a loss to the community.

But in Mexia, they see it as an opportunity to start with a clean slate on this important street corner and to perhaps bring something new amid all this history.

Mexia will eventually sell the parcel for far less than it spent on it.

Rather than upset about the loss, city leaders look forward to the sale and the new investment it might bring.

”Hey, it's available downtown. Come to the city and make an offer. We're really having a lot of success with that,” Garretty explained.

From blighted houses, to blighted buildings in the heart of downtown, this city takes its image-raising seriously.

”I'd like to see something there that will enhance downtown we do have a lot of activity starting to come back to downtown. So I'd like to see something, something there that's going to add to that,” said Burkeen.

It's hard to argue with the judge.