The old red brick building at 128 Main St. in Hillsboro has seen better days. Purchased Nov. 13, 2003 by Dennis Gora, the former doctor’s office has stood empty for more than three decades. City officials are worried about the building’s declining status, and they discussed safety concerns last week at the council meeting.
“The south side is about to fall down,” City Administrator Larry Paine said March 20. “City workers have put up barricades to warn people to stay away from it, but it really represents a hazard in the state it is in.”
City Attorney Dan Baldwin told council members that the city could not just go in and demolish the building.
“We have to follow due process,” Baldwin said. “There will have to be an order by a judge to have the building removed or repaired. It is the owner’s choice what he wants to do. Eventually, the judge will set a date. If nothing happens after that date, then we have the authority to go in and clean it up.”
Baldwin said he was preparing a case to present in court and hoped to file for an April court date.
“Time-wise we are ready to roll,” he said. “We just have to wait for the proper order of things.”
Baldwin said several attempts to contact Gora were unsuccessful. Information from the Marion County Appraiser’s Office listed Gora’s home address as 314 N. Lincoln, Hillsboro, but Mayor Delores Dalke said there was not a residence at that place, nor had there been for some time.
“Our past contact with the owner was that he did not want anyone trespassing over there,” she said. “That makes it difficult to determine a current value or worth of property.”
Paine noted that, according to city ordinance concerning condemned properties, an estimate showing the cost of repair to be more than half a building’s worth must be obtained before a building could be declared totally unusable.
In a subsequent conversation, Dalke noted, in her position as a real estate agent, Gora was delinquent on property tax payments for several properties in Hillsboro.
“It looks like Gora has not paid property taxes for several years,” she said, referring to information from the county appraisal office. “According to Kansas law, a property becomes delinquent after three years of unpaid taxes, so we are at that point, it looks like.”
The appraisal office lists a payment from the Goras in 2008, but nothing has been paid since.
Dalke said she remembered a time when the red brick building was a thriving doctor’s office.
“Dr. H. F. (Herman) Janzen used to work there,” she said. “When I was a child I went to the doctor there, and even when we moved back to Hillsboro after John and I were married, I went there.”
After housing medical offices, the building was zoned for residential use, with an apartment upstairs.
“There were renters there for a while,” Dalke said. “But the place has been on a downward spiral for so long, and once the roof started leaking, no one wanted to live there anymore.”
Despite the building’s decline, Dalke said there have always been buyers interested in buying it and fixing it up.
“People just loved that building, especially people who like old things,” she said. “It was a very neat building at one time, but the Goras never wanted to sell it after they purchased it, and it has just gone unattended since then.”