Concerns raised after fire at old MCI Hospital in Independence

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A weekend fire at the boarded-up Medical Center of Independence has neighbors calling for the blighted building to be torn down.

Those who live near 23rd Street and 291 Highway are calling for the city to take action.

The hospital, known as MCI, has been closed for five years and in that time it's quickly become a breeding ground for criminals.

Saturday night, firefighters rushed to the main hospital building. Flames were shooting out of the top floor windows.

Neighbors tell FOX 4 News there's been vandalism, and a lot police calls here as copper and other metal has been stripped out of the building.

And they claim it hasn't stopped here. Some say nearby homes also are becoming targets for thieves and vandals.

Homeowners say they've waited too long for redevelopment. That's why those watching the fire wanted the building to burn to the ground.

"That would be an improvement because at least it forces someone to come through and at least demolish the building or repair it and have it fixed," said Dan Shimel, a nearby homeowner.

An Independence city council member tells FOX 4 News there are discussions taking place to sell the property to the city utility, Independence Power and Light.

The main hospital building, the one that caught fire over the weekend, would be torn down.
Another building, which used to be medical offices, would be remodeled as office space for Independence Power and Light.

The sale has not yet taken place.

Neighbors like Shimel are getting tired of waiting. His daughter was born at MCI back in 2006. He never dreamed then that the hospital that helped bring the community up would end up dragging the neighborhood down in such a short period of time.

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