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The city of Sioux City Inspection Services Division declared KD Station unsafe and unfit for occupancy on Wednesday, citing a roof leak and the owners' indication the building most likely will not be maintained or improved, the division manager said.

David Brown, manager of inspection services, said since a roof leak developed and large portions of the building remain unimproved, it was the city's duty to post red tags and serve notice to the owners. Vicky Lohry, president of KD Station Inc., and Damon Lohry, secretary of KD Station Inc., indicated they are not likely to be able to continue maintaining the building or continue ongoing improvements.

"For over 25 years now the improvements have been a work in progress and with recent events, there are a few factors that led to this," Brown said.

On March 16, a fire in an outdoor electrical transformer sent flames from the first to the sixth floor on the exterior of the building. Around the same time, an unrelated "serious" roof leak developed above the fourth floor bowling alley.

Brown said the electrical problems were quickly repaired, but the roof leak had not been repaired.

The building at 2001 Leech Av., formerly the Swift and Company packing plant, is now subject to the same process as all other red tag buildings -- if repairs are not completed in six months, the building will go to a public hearing before the City Council with an Inspection Services recommendation for demolition, Brown said.

"It is unlikely that the council would approve demolition, and we understand that, but that is just part of the normal process," Brown said, adding he hopes the red-tag hearing would raise interest in repairing the 1920s-era building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A building listed on the national register can be demolished, Brown said, once certain steps are taken, including extensive documentation of the structure.

Vicky Lohry and Damon Lohry could not be reached for comment.

About 20 tenants leased space in the former meatpacking plant, converted into a business and entertainment complex in 1976, until late May when they were told they had 30 days to vacate the structure in the former stockyards area.

Damon Lohry's father, the late Kermit Lohry, acquired the 350,000-square-foot meatpacking plant after it closed in 1974, with the dream of turning it into a retail and recreation complex. He used old equipment left behind by the packer to build and decorate the shop fronts.

Brown said the occupied portions of the building were in compliance with city building safety standards, but the majority of the building was closed to the public awaiting improvements.

"We went along with them in good faith with the hope that over a period of time their financial situation would improve and with time they would be able to finish improvements to all areas of the building," Brown said. "That was the hope. It appears now that is probably not going to happen."

Jesse Claeys can be reached at (712) 293-4221 or jesseclaeys@siouxcityjournal.com.

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