KC neighbors urging new owner not to demolish historic mansion filled with problems

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- From the outside, it’s easy to see why neighbors of a stately brick mansion at the corner of West 54th Street and Wornall Road are upset to hear that the home’s new owner is asking the city’s permission to tear it down.

“It’s hard to re-create something that has that much character,” neighbor Nancy Merrill said. “It’s just a lot of detail, a lot of stuff that they just don’t do anymore.”

There's a lot of everything in this 6,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home that dates back to 1918. The majestic home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

But the home’s new owner insists there’s a lot wrong with the structure that you can’t see from the curbside.

Brian Schell paid $1.5 million to purchase the home last September.

In his application to the city’s Historic Preservation Committee, Schell makes the case that the home would need nearly $1 million worth of repairs just to make it livable.

Schell didn’t return phone calls from FOX4, but in his application paperwork he included the following statement:

“We recently purchased this home that has extensive and extremely expensive repairs necessary to make the home occupy-able, which were not disclosed by the sellers. Issues include: presence of friable (air born) asbestos requiring abatement; hazardous presence of lead-based paint throughout the house and in the soil as well as in the water lines requiring new windows, doors and replacement of boiler and plumbing.”

Schell also promises to build a new home on the lot that would remain consistent with the character of the neighborhood.

“We love this neighborhood and the historic looking homes and propose to build a house with a similar look and feel of the neighborhood -- a historic Georgian Revival (red brick or white siding with black shutters) or historic French Provincial.”

But some neighbors of the home aren’t swayed.

“When you buy an old house, you’re going to buy problems,” Merrill said. “That’s just inevitable, and you’re going to have to wrap your arms around that and go forward.

Another neighbor who happened by, Katherine Holmes, agreed.

“It makes me sad because I know whatever they build won’t look as historic,” Holmes said.

Schell’s scheduled hearing before the city’s committee was originally scheduled for Friday morning but will be moved to later next month since Schell will be out of town.

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