Wyandotte County residents voice frustrations, ideas for Sauer Castle as fines pile up

Kansas News

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Neighbors continue to voice concerns over a Wyandotte County landmark. Local leaders are paying attention too, and fines are adding up.

The discord continues while historic Sauer Castle sits in disrepair.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, released findings of a survey regarding the castle, indicating a large number of people in KCK are fine with using eminent domain as a last resort to take the property.

Codes enforcement workers have visited the castle a lot in recent months, issuing tens of thousands of dollars in administrative fees.

Patrick Holton, who manages property maintenance and compliance for the Unified Government, said county records show a small fortune in fines levied against Sauer Castle owner Carl Lopp. Holton said Lopp owes more than $17,000 as of September, with violations ranging from failing to maintain the structure’s integrity to forgetting to register it as being a vacant property.

However, Holton said Lopp seems more willing to work with county leaders now than he has in the past. Holton said two weeks ago, Lopp had contractors working on the castle’s tower.

Holton said county inspectors demanded that work to cease since Lopp didn’t have the proper permits, and work can’t continue until those permits are approved. Lopp told FOX4 his workers have the permits that are required.

“We’re happy that, at least, aspects of this case are starting to move forward with cooperation from the owner and the contractor he’s hired. We’re meeting that with what I’d call cautious optimism,” Holton said.

“It’s going to take a long time. There’s a lot of expense involved. We’ve gotten no assist from the city. In fact, it’s been the opposite. They’ve come after us left, right and center,” Lopp said.

Lopp’s family members built the castle in the 19th Century. Late Monday afternoon, he said everything is in the county’s hands at this point.

Lopp insisted county leaders have tried taking Sauer Castle from him many times over the years, with intention to turn it into a money-making operation. The castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to the finding about eminent domain, the Unified Government’s community survey showed large numbers of responders hope to see Sauer Castle become a museum, park or wedding venue.

Here’s a closer look at some of the survey findings:

  • 82.6% said they support use of eminent domain
  • 84% said they support using the castle as a museum/tours
  • 64% said they support using it as a public park/event space
  • 60% said they support using Sauer Castle as a wedding venue

Neighbors said they’re sympathetic to Lopp’s situation, but they also want something done.

“It depends on his money situation, but he needs to do a little something each time just to keep them off him. They need to take into consideration – that’s going to take millions and millions of dollars to redo that thing,” said David McHenry, a neighbor who lives near Sauer Castle.

What to do with this piece of Kansas history depends on what takes place in the near future.

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