The former school that towered over the intersection of Airport Highway and Western Avenue soon will be a pile of bricks.
Members of the city administration met at the site yesterday to mark the beginning of the building's demolition and the elimination of its blemish on the neighborhood.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner called the building “a horrible eyesore that has been plaguing this neighborhood for years.”
The vacant structure, with chalkboards still hanging from some walls, was in disrepair and had become a haven for vandals.
The city's Dirty Dozen Committee targeted the building in 1996, and the city has been in court since then trying to get the structure razed.
The building, 1702 Airport Hwy., was constructed as a school in 1900. First called Junction School and later renamed Wayne School, it closed in the mid-1940s.
Rowe-DeArmond, Inc., an arm of Hartzell Corp., then bought the building, and it later was owned by Rowe Industries, Lucas County property records show.
Toledo resident Dennis Doblinger bought the building at a sheriff's sale in 1994, and the city has been trying to get him to clean up the property since 1996, said John Madigan, general counsel for the city.
After the city obtained an $89,000 judgment against Mr. Doblinger, he filed for bankruptcy, and the city has been fighting in bankruptcy court for money to pay for the demolition.
The city settled for $30,000 and took title to the property, he said.
The mayor said demolition and asbestos removal is expected to cost nearly $137,000.
Dennis Sochacki, whose home at 129 Emery St., is just around the corner from the abandoned building, said he is glad to see it go.
“It's an eyesore. I'm glad they're taking it down,” he said.
He said neighbors had complained about the vacant building. He had heard it was to be torn down in July, and he was pleased to see demolition crews arrive.
Mr. Sochacki said he has lived on Emery Street for four years and has seen kids going in and out of the building. He worried that someone would get hurt there.
Mr. Madigan said he saw evidence of vandalism when he surveyed the building, including graffiti on the walls and fire damage.
“Someone tried to burn the place down on Christmas Eve last year. There have been many vandals,” said Jeff Carr, manager of Food Town, 1703 Airport, across the street from former school.
He said the demolition is good news for the neighborhood.
Mr. Carr said Food Town tries to be a good neighbor to the area, and the dilapidated building “kind of detracts from that.”
Demolition should take about three weeks, Mr. Madigan said.