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Demolition of partially collapsed Iowa building begins as owner pleads guilty to civil infraction

Andrew Wold, the owner of the partially collapsed Davenport building, was ordered to pay a $300 fine and $95 in court costs.
Demolition begins at the site of a building collapse on June 12, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.
Demolition begins Monday at the site of a building collapse in Davenport, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall / AP file

The owner of the Iowa building that partly collapsed last month pleaded guilty Monday to an infraction and agreed to pay a fine as crews started demolishing the remains of the failed structure.

Part of the historic six-story apartment building in downtown Davenport fell May 28, killing three people and leaving dozens homeless.

The collapse cast a spotlight on the building's lengthy history of citations and tenant complaints.

The building's owner, Andrew Wold, did not appear in Scott County court Monday. An attorney entered a guilty plea on his behalf to a civil infraction filed by the city of Davenport.

The city cited and fined Wold $300 on May 30 for failing to maintain the building in a safe and sanitary condition. City Attorney Tom Warner said at a news conference this month that the citation was to intended prevent Wold from transferring the property to avoid a demolition order.

Wold was ordered to pay the fine, as well as $95 in court costs, at the hearing Monday after he failed to appear and enter a plea Friday.

Alexander M. Johnson, an attorney for Wold, said the civil infraction did not require Wold to appear in court.

"He will pay the fine once the costs are processed," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the site of the building at 324 Main Street was busy with crews using a large excavator to dismantle the 116-year-old brick, steel and concrete structure in a process officials said would take several weeks.

Clothing is removed from a closet during demolition at the site of a building collapse on June 12, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.
Clothing is removed by heavy machinery from a closet during demolition. Charlie Neibergall / AP

It’s a difficult task, because the historic building is in the heart of the city’s downtown and is believed to contain asbestos and other potentially hazardous material.

The city said in a news release Sunday night that officials have been discussing how to tear it down with structural engineers, regulatory authorities and the company doing the demolition work. As a precaution, the city ordered that residents of nearby apartments vacate their homes during the process.

The partial collapse shocked the community of Davenport and sparked criticism of the city's handling of the aftermath.

City officials initially said the building would be demolished two days after the collapse — even as families said their loved ones could still be inside. The city later said demolition would wait as more thorough searches were conducted.

The bodies of three residents — Branden Colvin Sr., 42; Ryan Hitchcock, 51; and Daniel Prien, 60 — were recovered from the rubble the first weekend in June.

Since then, lawsuits have been filed against the city, the building owner and his company, and past building managers and owners.