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story.lead_photo.caption Home Ice Co. building at 700 Cate Ave. in Jonesboro. - Photo by Craighead County assessor

JONESBORO -- The city of Jonesboro plans to demolish a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places after a judge dismissed the building owner's appeal of a condemnation order.

Craighead County Circuit Judge Pamela Honeycutt ruled that attorneys for Samuel Rosse III failed to file a timely notice to appeal the city's decision to tear down Rosse's Home Ice Co. building on Cate Avenue, about half a mile northeast of the downtown area.

The city began discussing demolition of the building in 2013 after its owner, Rosse's grandfather, died and the structure fell into disrepair. The city notified Rosse on Feb. 28, 2015, that the building was dangerous and should be torn down.

"It's falling in," Jonesboro City Attorney Carol Duncan said. "It's not structurally sound. You cannot restore it."

Attorney Charles Hancock filed a notice of appeal in September 2015, but did not include any additional material for the court, Duncan said.

Honeycutt dismissed the appeal request later that year, but the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled that Hancock had filed proper paperwork seeking the appeal.

On Monday, Honeycutt again ruled to dismiss the appeal because Hancock did not respond within a deadline set by the court.

"There was nothing logged in the record," Duncan said. "They filed a notice of appeal and that was it.

"Our position is that you have to file something other than just an appeal and then let it sit there."

Hancock did not return telephone calls Tuesday.

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The two-story brick Home Ice Co. was built in 1907 as the site of the Jonesboro Wagon Factory, where wagon wheels were made. When the factory closed, the building served as the Jonesboro Peanut Hulling Company where workers processed peanuts and shipped them on trains that traveled the Cotton Belt Railroad that ran beside it.

In 1919, after the peanut factory closed, the facility became an ice cream manufacturer. In 1929 it began making blocks of ice. At its peak, Home Ice Co. made 100 tons of ice a day.

A group of Arkansas State University professors proposed the building be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Home Ice Co. received the designation June 5.

Although being on the register allows the property eligibility for tax credits and improvement grants, it does not prevent it from being torn down, said Mark Christ, community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

"It's on private property," Christ said of the Home Ice Co. building. "It's the owner's right to do whatever he wants with it. It's our hope that it can be protected, but the building is well-documented and there are photographs.

"At the very least, it has been recorded."

Duncan said the city will "begin moving forward" with demolition plans.

She said police have responded to reports of people inside the building, and city officials are worried they could be hurt. A tractor-trailer is parked by the building, and vehicles often park in a lot beside the structure at night, she said.

Fire inspectors toured the building recently and firefighters were reluctant to go to the second floor, fearing the floor would cave in.

A chain link fence surrounds the property, but parts of it are torn down. Several windows are broken, and litter, furniture and equipment cover the floor inside the building. City workers have cleaned the property before, selling scrap metal they recovered to help defer the cost of cleanup.

"Our issue is with the code enforcement," Duncan said. "We didn't board the building up before so they [the Rosses] could get into it and clean it themselves.

"Our argument now is that it's too late. We're moving on."

State Desk on 07/19/2017

Print Headline: Jonesboro set to demolish 110-year-old building

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