Tom Saul

A demolition crew began the careful process of tearing down a historic downtown Davenport landmark Monday, six months after it was declared unsafe and a danger to the public.

The Anken Flats building, in the 500 block of West 3rd Street, was ordered demolished in July after a city fire marshal and building inspectors found collapsed sections of flooring and roofing, failed support columns and buckled walls in danger of tumbling down.

The building topped the list of the city Historic Preservation Commission's most endangered structures last year. The building's owner, Tropical Beach Investment Co., which lists Don Frantz as its president and Ron Frantz as registered agent, was criticized for doing no maintenance on the building in years, a process the commission calls "demolition by neglect."

"It will take us a week or two to get it to the ground because it is so unsafe," said Rollin McAdam of McAdam & Associates, Rock Island, which was hired by the city to do the demolition work. "It's so unsafe because it's so rotten. When it gets rotten, it gets unpredictable."

McAdam is being paid about $69,000 for the job. Mike Farris, the city housing inspection program manager, said the owner has agreed to reimburse the city for the cost.

The building has continued to deteriorate since the initial inspection was done, Farris said. For instance, a section of roof that was found to be sunken continued to drop at least another foot in the past few months.

"We're just lucky we haven't had a heavy snowfall," he said. "If that happened, it is not a building I would want to be standing next to."

It was designated a city historic landmark in 1998 over the objections of its owners, who asked for, but were denied, permission to tear it down at the time. It is thought to be the first building in the city given city historic status without the owner's consent.

Don Frantz did not return a telephone call from the Quad-City Times seeking comment Monday. While he has cooperated with the demolition work, he blames the city for the condition of the building by failing to let him tear it down nearly five years ago, Farris added.

Anken Flats was completed in 1893 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered by preservationists to be a rare specimen of the Second Empire style of design in Davenport and was an intact example of one of the city's early commercial blocks.

Tom Saul can be contacted at                                  (563) 383-2453 or tsaul@qctimes.com.