HOLT — A thriving educational hub and elementary school for Holt youth in years past, the building at 455 School Way Lane has become a community danger and needs to be condemned, said Holt Mayor Stewart Wells.
The city has been working in recent months to secure the former Holt Elementary’s entry points as the dilapidated building has broken windows and structural concerns that include an unstable and hole-riddled floor and collapsing roof.
“We’ve been getting complaints about the property for a long time and it’s a safety concern because people will go in there. We’ve had kids in there and I worry that one of them is going to get hurt,” said Wells, adding the city has been trying to contact the owner for months to no avail.
In previous board meetings, Wells, City Clerk Casey Franke and aldermen all commented on difficulties reaching property owner Guoshon Guo as Guo is from China and likely lives out of the country in addition to having addresses in several U.S. cities including Las Vegas.
The building has sat abandoned since about 2017 after aldermen denied the property owner a conditional-use permit that would have allowed a Chinese-based company to operate a protein powder repackaging and distribution facility in the building that is zoned residential. The permit was denied after aldermen heard concerns from residents who expressed worry about property damage, impact to property values and air pollution.
City leaders say the building has had issues with vagrants living in it with trespassers smashing items and leaving broken glass throughout the structure. Aldermen previously discussed the building’s safety liability in a January board meeting and are now working with the city attorney to condemn the property.
“We’ve tried getting him to deal with the issues and to secure the property, but that hasn’t happened so we are looking into and working our way through the process to condemn it,” said Wells.