City could hold up Shakespeare\'s Pizza demolition

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COLUMBIA - Columbia City Council member Barbara Hoppe proposed an administrative delay that would stop the demolition of national recognized historic sites downtown, including Shakespeare's.

The popular pizza restaurant on Ninth Street announced last week its landlord at the Ninth and Elm location would demolish the original building. The restaurant would temporarily relocate and eventually move back to the same location, but in a new building. Last night, Hoppe presented the council with the ordinance that would require a delay of demolition permits to Columbia's historic districts of Downtown and East Campus.

"Downtown is a national historic district registered on the national historic register," Hoppe said. "So it has a designation, but that's all it has. Anyone who owns property can tear down any historic building, and we're at risk of losing the character of downtown and the history of downtown."

However, city council member Laura Nauser voted against Hoppe's proposal. She said while she isn't opposed to looking at changes to historic properties long-term, but does not want to interfere with property owners' rights in specific cases.

"I voted against it because I feel it should be out of our jurisdiction to purposefully and willfully to pass an ordinance to effectively stop the process that already has begun," Nauser said. 

MU alum Janet McCaskill said she was shocked to hear the news about Shakespeare's moving and would love to see the original building stay.

"I can't imagine coming back to Columbia and this not being here," McCaskill said. "There's a lot of change, and it's been quite a few years since I've been here, but certain things you just count on being here. Shakespeare's is one of them."

Shane Creech, Columbia's Building and Site Development Manager, said no demolition or building permits have been issued for 225 South Ninth Street. Hoppe said Shakespeare's landlords applied for a demolition permit on April 1, but there is a 30 day review period for the Historic Preservation Commission to approve or deny all applications.

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on at the next city council meeting on April 20. If it passes, Creech says it changes when demolition permit could be issued.

"If they do that, it would prohibit Community Development from issuing a demolition permit until either October 6, 2015 or until the demolition receives council approval," Creech said.

Hoppe said if the ordinance does pass, the owners of the Shakespeare's building would have to present to the council and make their case for the demolition. 

Shakespeare's General Manager Kurt Mirtsching said he had a meeting Tuesday with property owners the Raders and the Odles. Mirtsching said none of the plans have changed as of Tuesday. He said his current focus is moving into the new Eighth Street location.