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Midtown Square to be torn down: city reacts

Lawton_Lawton's Midtown Square will be torn down. Judge Keith Aycock ordered it to be demolished Friday after the owner, Bobby Mansell, failed to meet a deadline once again. The judge gave Mansell two chances back in October. Friday was his third. If he didn't meet the deadline, the judge said he would sign an order to destroy the vacant shopping center. That's exactly what he did. The order comes after a 3 year fight between the city and Mansell to fix it up or tear Midtown Square down.

  Judge Aycock says it was the same thing all over again. He gave Mansell a deadline and Mansell disregarded it. Mansell was supposed to bring signed contracts from contractors and proof of opening $600,000 escrow account. Mansell did get 2 roofing contracts and an asbestos removal contract, but there was some fine print on those contracts the judge did not approve of.

   The City Of Lawton wasn't surprised. "That's really what we've been dealing with for the last 3 years is basically trying to get him to make a decision and every time we thought we had a decision there were stipulations or conditions on the decision," said City Manager Larry Mitchell.

   The stipulation was that the roofers would not commence work until Mansell told them a specific start date. After 60 days, if Mansell did not give a "start work date" then the contract would be null and void. The judge thought that was Mansell's way of holding on to the "purse strings" of the property.

  Judge Aycock was also unhappy with Mansell's failure to fill the escrow account. He said he was clear all along, if Mansell didn't meet Friday's deadline, he would issue a demolition order. And he did.

  The city says it's been a long time coming. "We wanted a resolution and I think we now have a resolution. We were always of the mindset that either you repair make the renovations make the buildings useful or remove them so I think the city is satisfied with the outcome," said Mitchell.

  Mitchell says the city hopes to have contracts for the demolition ready in the coming month and Midtown Square will likely be demolished in the coming 90 days.

  Judge Aycock was unsure if he had the power to order Mansell to deposit money into an escrow account for demolition. So he asked the city to look into it, and if he can, he will make that order. Mansell will have to pay for the demolition.

   Bobby Mansell and his son, who is his attorney, told 7NEWS they will explore other legal options.

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