Rock Shop demolition due in October
The "Rock Shop," a landmark building that was a popular Madras stop from the 1950s through the 1970s, is scheduled to be torn down before the end of the month.
The two-story building, located on the east side of U.S. Highway 26, on the hill north of Madras, had fallen into disrepair over the past few decades, and in recent years, has been the source of a barrage of complaints to city and county officials.
"The most significant challenge related to the project has been acquiring title to the property," said Nick Snead, Madras Community Development Department director. "The city could not effectively resolve the problems related to vagrancy, trespassing and the like without taking title to the property."
The property, formerly owned by Lanny Metteer, had been seized several years ago by the U.S. Department of Justice following a civil action — United States v. Lanis R. Metteer — and on Feb. 5, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, appointed Pillar Properties as the "receiver," to arrange for the sale of the property.
The 0.46-acre property had remained in limbo until June, when the city successfully completed its purchase of that property, along with four other nearby properties, which had also been owned by the Department of Justice.
"These properties were subject to IRS enforcement action, which resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice taking all five properties," he said. "The city submitted two offers on the properties; the final accepted offer was $34,000 for all five properties."
The other properties include a 0.4-acre property behind and a 0.3-acre property directly to the south of the Rock Shop; a 0.92-acre property at the corner of Northeast Cleveland and Northeast Sixth Street; and a 0.39-acre property along the highway at Northeast Jefferson Street.
The 3,952-square-foot Rock Shop was built in 1950 by Joseph L. And Blanche G. Waud, according to title records in the Jefferson County Assessor's Office.
The building housed a Rock Shop, which had gems, agates, novelties, and Native American beadwork.
In a 1964 photo of the business, "APARTMENTS" were advertised in large letters on the building's exterior. The apartments were located on the upper and lower floors on the north end of the building.
The Wauds, who lived in Madras from 1944 to 1958, sold the business to Harvey and Myrtle Summers and Robert and Marie Summers for $10 "and other considerations" in 1953. The business remained in Harvey and Myrtle Summers' hands until it was sold to Barbara Metteer in 1971.
As part of the lengthy process of purchasing the building, which had been extended by the government shutdown in December 2018, the city faced challenges with the required environmental assessment.
"I had reasonable suspicion that there was asbestos and other environmental contaminants on the property," said Snead. "To complete the survey, the city needed to removed all of the trash and debris in the building, so that the floors, walls and ceilings were exposed, allowing for proper inspection for contaminants."
The city ended up hiring a contractor to remove the large volume of trash and debris filling the building.
Abandoned vehicles and boats on the property posed another challenge for the city once it took possession of the property, since the city was required to post notices on each of the vehicles before it could scrap or surplus the items.
"The ambiguity of ownership of the vehicles and boats caused the city to conduct thorough legal research on the necessary actions to remove the vehicles and boats from the property," said Snead. "This also caused some delay to the project."
A motorhome, now located on the east side of the building, also presented challenges. "The motorhome has similar ownership concerns as the vehicles and boats and warranted an environmental assessment," he said, noting that the large vehicle is not habitable. "The city will scrap as much of the motorhome as possible and dispose of any remaining components."
At its Sept. 24 meeting, the Madras City Council approved the low bid of $83,716 from Rocky Ridge Exacavation and Hauling to do asbestos abatement and building demolition at the site.
"As soon as the contractor provides some basic information to the city, the city will issue a notice to proceed," he said, adding that everything must be completed by Oct. 29.
The total cost of the project is about $160,732, which also includes the cost of purchasing the property, trash and scrap removal, relocation of a motorhome, dismantling a boat, environmental assessments, and removal of a storage tank and a septic tank.
Funding for the project includes $50,000 contributed by Jefferson County, $44,480 in grant funding from Business Oregon, $38,752 from the city's Community Cleanup Fund, and another $27,500 from system development funds for street improvement and storm water.
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