On Wednesday morning, Sam Frazier, who was also Chairman of the Design Review Committee, told reporters that the committee had voted to delay the demolition permit for six months. I knew this was planned, but chose not to attend. When reporters called me for comment, I had prepared a script that implied surprise at this development and quickly focused on ONB’s willingness to assist the owners in finding a buyer. I did not express my disgust with the owners’ plan for demolition and emphasized the incentives available to a developer for renovation. Publicity was better than advertisements, and ONB could afford it.
Within an hour, Ferd Weil, ONB’s Vice Chairman was on the phone saying, “I just heard from Frank Yielding that some design committee won’t let him tear down his own building on Second Avenue. Outrageous! You need to talk to the mayor’s office and get this straightened out. This is America. Property owner have rights. Steve Spencer called me, too. He has the furniture store next door and he’s ready to lease the lot for parking. Keep me informed. I’ll call Arrington myself if I need to.”
Before I hung up, my secretary gave me a note that Mr. Haskell was on the other line and insisted on holding. After I said hello, he sputtered and raged for several minutes about what had happened that morning and said I would understand when I looked inside the building.
I followed Mr. Haskell from the bright sunlit sidewalk into the shadowy interior. We stopped where we stood as the muffled sound of pigeons circling inside the building and rising to a large opening where the roof and two floors had collapsed. Some rays of sunshine reached the dusty debris on the first floor.
“Hah! No one is going to renovate this building. It’s about to fall down. Let’s get out of here. Do you understand now, young man?” I nodded and muttered something about renovation being a challenge.
I picked up the option agreement and walked to Jefferson Federal where I had an appointment to discuss the option with Mr. Yeilding who was retired, but still had an office there. In the outer office, I read the first paragraph of the document and saw “A consideration of Ten Dollars ($10.00) is offered…” I had heard that a transaction had to have a consideration to be valid. I withdrew a ten dollar bill from my wallet and slipped it under the paper clip that held my card. I was relieved when he scanned the brief agreement, looked up, smiled broadly, and reached for his desk pen to sign.
“We’ll give you this six months option because the city has tied our hands for that long, but you can be sure that demolition will start the very next day. No one is going to buy that building. It’s all rubble behind the pretty facade. Good day.”
After I collected the other two signatures with similar admonitions, I took them to Sam and Alton. They invited me to their conference room. “Alton said, “Michael, this is a great coup for you, another feather in your cap.” He and Sam were in a jovial mood. I told them that I had paid the $10 consideration, and they laughed uproariously.