UWSP begins demolition of duplex and house near campus
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) began demolition of a duplex at 1916 Briggs St., Stevens Point, in the early morning hours Monday, Jan. 4, and demolished a second at 2116 Fourth Ave., Stevens Point, Wednesday, Jan. 6.
“Alderperson (Garret) Ryan (District 3) asked us to take a walk through that neighborhood this summer to look at the state of some of the houses and look at the violations that were occurring. We made notes of all of those, this house on Briggs happened to be on that list,” said Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza.
“There were some violations, and we had the Inspection Department investigate it a little more thoroughly and issued orders to the property owners, in this case the university, to correct the problem or tear down the house,” Wiza said.
“We gave them six months to get those problems taken care of, that six months expires Feb. 1. Because I assume it was in the university’s plan anyway, they decided it was more cost-effective to tear down the building,” Wiza said.
“Because they are a municipal entity, they do not need our permission, they do not need any permits, they just need to do it in a safe manner,” he said. “To my understanding they did. They had the street blocked off. I didn’t get any complaints from the adjacent neighbors, and we even drove by yesterday with the director of Public Works (Scott Schatschneider) Monday to make sure that is was safe. There was no debris left in the street, nothing on the sidewalk and the basement will be fenced off safety until they fill the hole in.
“So, everything was done in accordance with the rules,” he said.
Carl Rasmussen, director of Facilities Planning for UWSP, said the list of needed repairs the city required included foundation repairs, a new back porch and a new chimney.
The estimated cost to get the Briggs house up to city code was between $35,000 and $45,000, and the fair market value placed the duplex at $52,000.
That estimate doesn’t include overhead, which includes hiring a plan designer, an architect (which the state requires for projects over $30,000) and a contractor to carry out the renovations. Overhead usually adds another 15 percent to a project, Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said UWSP generally justifies demolition of a building when repairing it would cost more than 50 percent of the building’s value.
In accordance with the university’s master plan, it began purchasing properties on the north side of the 1900 block of Briggs Street in recent years to give itself the option for future expansion.
One of the possible expansions could be a new Business and Communications Building, Rasmussen said.
Initially, the properties would most likely be paved into an extension of Parking Lot R.
“But parking lots become buildings,” Rasmussen said. “Parking lots are place holders until the need for projects arises.”
The same process was used for the new Science Building, soon to be constructed on top of Parking Lot X.
In 1994, Lot X was paved. Then, about 20 years later, a new science building is planned.
That’s how large projects are planned. The space for a new building is carved out many years in advance, and a parking lot is created to hold the space. Then, when needs arise, the university will have the ability to meet those needs, Rasmussen said.
In the university’s master plan, UWSP details a desire to complete a “quad.” The Trainer Natural Resources building to the north, the Learning Resource Center to the east, the Noel Fine Arts Center to the west and a new school of business and communications to the south.
“It’s a marvelous opportunity for a campus to have a site available for these projects,” Rasmussen said.
As of now, UWSP owns nine of the 13 properties on that portion of Briggs Street. Of the remaining four, one is owner occupied and three are student rentals.
When the process of purchasing properties began, only two of the 13 were owner-occupied. The rest were rentals which service nearly exclusively students.
When UWSP bought the properties, it honored the leases of the tenants. Rasmussen said not one of the renters wasn’t a student.
“It’s safe to say they were student rentals,” he said.
A second house at 2116 Fourth Ave., Stevens Point, was demolished on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
The university tried for more than a year to get someone to buy and move the house so it didn’t have to be demolished, but was unsuccessful.
“A lot of things need to come together to move a house, and they just didn’t,” Rasmussen said.
For now, the space is planned to be used as a better access to Parking Lot T.