WEAVER — Men working for a Birmingham-based excavation company on Wednesday began demolishing a long-vacant building on this city’s main drag.
Weaver’s mayor called the destruction progress, a “huge step forward” for his efforts at recruiting new businesses to the city.
“For a small town like Weaver,” Wayne Willis said by phone Wednesday morning, “a vacant building in the middle of town was like a stake in the heart, economically.”
The building on the corner of Main and Anniston streets has been vacant for several years, Willis said, and had fallen into disrepair. It was once a mom-and-pop convenience store; that use ended shortly after another gas station opened up across Main Street.
He and other city officials had offered to buy the building from its owner, which he said was the same corporation behind the Mapco chain of gas stations, but the offer “fell on deaf ears,” Willis said.
County tax records available online indicate the building belongs to Williamson Oil Company, which, in turn, is owned by Mapco Family Centers. News accounts say the company is a subsidiary of Delek U.S. Holdings.
With outright ownership apparently out of the question, Willis made it a mission to see the building torn down.
He said Wednesday he’d directed the city’s attorney to send a “strongly-worded letter” to the company owning the building, threatening legal action if the dilapidated structure wasn’t made to comply with a new public nuisance ordinance approved this year by Weaver City Council.
That tactic worked, Willis said, as evidenced by the crew’s work Wednesday.
A clawed excavator tore pieces off the building around noon, placing twisted metal scraps into a tractor trailer parked nearby.
Delores Holt watched the demolition from the Bearcat Express across Main Street, and was not impressed.
Holt has lived 17 years in Weaver, along a road off of Anniston Street and a few hundred feet from the vacant store.
“It’s been here since I been here,” Holt said, “so this hurts me to see.”
Efforts to reach a supervisor leading the work on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but Willis believes it will conclude this week.
Once the lot is cleared, he’d like to try again to buy the property, he said Wednesday. It’d make a good spot for a new station for the city’s volunteer fire department, he said.
If, just as before, Weaver is unable to purchase the site, Willis said he’d seek an incentive package to get a new business opened there.
Holt, meanwhile, was similarly unimpressed with the fire station idea.
What Weaver needs, she says, is a restaurant, or a grocery store. She finds the city’s Dollar General inadequate for her shopping needs — and when she wants to eat out, she drives to Lenlock.
“We ain’t got nowhere to go eat,” Holt said Wednesday.