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Crowell-Collier Building A Messy Clean-up For All Parties Involved

Wayne Baker
The historic Crowell-Collier Building, the largest structure in downtown Springfield now sits empty as is being torn down.

The largest structure in downtown Springfield, which was once home to one of the biggest publishing companies in the country is being demolished, but the project hasn't gone as planned as several court-ordered deadlines for the project have been missed.

Credit Wayne Baker / WYSO
Mosier Industrial Corp. employee work on tearing down the Crowell-Collier Building.

This giant 900,000 square foot brick structure looks like a Lego building someone knocked down parts of. Back in the 1940s, Crowell-Collier Publishing used to print more than 20 million magazines per month here. By 1957, the company was in financial trouble and left the massive structure on High and Lowry Streets empty.

Mosier Industrial Services Corp. bought the building for $1.5 million in 2011 from someone who’d been using it to store motorcycle parts and RVs.

But now Mosier has missed a series of court-ordered deadlines to have the property cleaned up.  Springfield's Law Director Jerry Strozdas said that it’s been declared a public nuisance.

"They agreed on several occasions - we're going to have everything out by this date - and they didn't make it," he said. "Then they are going to have everything out by that date and they didn't make it. At some point, there's not an excuse anymore in our view, in my view."

Strozdas did indicate that Mosier has made the structure safer than it was before the company bought it.

Clean up on the site of the former Crowell-Collier Publishing Company continues.
Credit Wayne Baker / WYSO
Clean up on the site of the former Crowell-Collier Publishing Company continues.

"It is undeniable that the citizenry is less at risk than they were," he said.

Mosier, on the other hand, stated that its sunk $6 million into the building. Project manager Russell Watts feels it might not have been worth it.

"So, we know what we're doing, we know how to get it done, we have the wherewithal to get it done. But all good things take time. If I would've known three-and-a-half years ago what I know today, I would vote 'no' let's not do the project," he said. "It feels like it's us against everybody - is what it feels like to me."

Currently, there are no plans to redevelop the Crowell-Collier site. But city officials hope Mosier will meet the April 2016 deadline ordered by the court to clean up the property, as Springfield continues to redevelop downtown.