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Judge orders renovations on Midtown Square to be completed by 2009

Lawton_For many years, Lawton's Midtown Square has been bare - home only to a few stray cats and pigeons.  The City of Lawton deemed the shopping center a nuisance to the city, and put it on its "Dangerous and Dilapidated (D&D)" list.  On Tuesday, the Comanche County District Court handed down a decision that was five years coming - the judge has given the owner one week to sign on with a contractor and begin renovations.

Steve Mansell says that he and his father, Bob, are unable to lease the shopping center because it's on the D&D list.  "We're in a situation where we have this piece of property, it's a very valuable piece of property, that we're unable to lease," said Steve Mansell.  Steve says his father wants to do with the property as he chooses.  "He wants to own it," he said.  "It is America, it's his property."

However, from the city's perspective, the $5 million piece of property doesn't have much worth at all - at least in its current condition.  "It doesn't have any use," said Lawton City Manager Larry Mitchell.  "There isn't any viability in the property.  It needs so much work."  Now that Judge Aycock has ordered Mansell to renovate the building and make sure it's up to code - roofing, windows, electrical, etc. - it must all be complete by August 1, 2009.  "I thought Judge Keith Aycock was very fair," said Mitchell.  "He was presented with a very difficult proposition, and very difficult case."

Aycock instructed the City of Lawton to follow up on renovations being done on Midtown Square, and to keep him apprised of the process.  Aycock advised the city that if construction seems to slow, or come to a halt, he will not get involved again.  The City of Lawton can't wait to start seeing some action.  "I'm excited," said Mitchell.  "I think the city's gonna be excited about seeing something happen."

Aycock says his main concerns for Midtown Square are asbestos in one store, and roofing on the entire building - first on the list to be improved.  The judge told Mansell that he must have a contractor hired for the job by Monday, November 3, and that the contractor must apply for a permit, and that the contractor must begin renovations within 30 days of permit approval.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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