Opus demolition begins amid lawsuit between citizens and Columbia

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COLUMBIA - A crane and bulldozer scooped heaps of rubble into dump trucks and trash containers Monday as demolition crews disposed of the remains of Chong's Oriental Market on Locust and Seventh streets.

The demolition is part of the controversial Opus development project.

Several citizens stopped to watch for a moment as they walked by the soon-to-be vacant lot. 

The City of Columbia filed a motion Monday morning to dismiss a pending lawsuit that opposes the Opus construction project, arguing the infrastructure doesn't support the proposed student housing.

Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the city believes the lawsuit will not stand.

"We believe that the plaintiff's case does not have merit," St. Romaine said in a text. "Opus meets all the requirements for their proposed building from a zoning and building code standpoint."

The law department in the city building did not have any comment on the subject.

According to Columbia resident Mary Hussmann, protestors will be demonstrating peacefully against the development on Locust and Eighth streets in front of the Tiger Cleaners starting at 4:30 p.m.

Below: Demolition work continues on the corner of Seventh and Locust streets in Columbia, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The location used to be home to Chong's Oriental Market but is now the site of an Opus development project.

Below: A bulldozer picks up rubble on the Seventh and Locust streets in Columbia, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. Boone County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Crane recently lifted a temporary restraining order for any construction or demolition work on the property.

Below: A construction worker closes the gates for the day on the development project on the corner of Seventh and Locust streets in Columbia, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. After tearing down what used to be Chong's Oriental Market, demolition stopped at around 6 p.m.

Below: The demolition crew cleans up the remains of what used to be Chong's Oriental Market on the corner of Seventh and Locust streets in Columbia, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The workers will next move to demolish the old location of Barnhouse's Crazy Music Store at the corner of Eighth and Locust streets.

Below: A construction worker tosses debris into a dumpster at the site of the Opus development project at the corner of Seventh and Locust streets in Columbia, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The City of Columbia filed a motion Monday morning to dismiss the lawsuit that opposes the student housing complex proposed for the area by Opus.

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