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Demolition of Lawton's Midtown Square begins

Lawton_Lawton's Midtown Square finally is coming down.  Demolition began on Monday morning on one of its complexes, and half of the building already is gone.  The first of the complexes to be demolished has been on the City of Lawton's Dangerous and Dilapidated list for years, and now that it finally is coming down, surrounding business owners and residents are both happy and sad to see the day arrive.

Folks are happy because they no longer will have to look at the buildings that have been eyesores for so long.  However, at the same time, they say it's a shame because at one time the buildings' businesses were thriving. 

Now, caution tape, scrap metal, and garbage are what you see at the site of Midtown Square Shopping Center.  Dwight Stodola's business is across the street from Midtown Square, and has been for years.  He says he never thought the complex would end up the way it did.  "It was quite a center in Lawton for a long, long time," he said.  "Just about everybody I knew, at one time or another, had a job over there." 

Leslie Martinez says she has lived behind the complex for the past 25 years, and says she even worked there.  She says it was a sad sight when she stepped out onto her porch Monday morning.  "We heard a lot of glass breaking, and you can see the twisted metal," she said.  Lawton resident Fred Simpson says he once lived across the street from the complex, and he's not sure how he feels about the demolition.  "I'm glad that it is coming down," he said.  "In some areas I'm sad to see it go because it has been a very good commercial area.  But, it's just been abused, just neglected and avoided so many times that it just turned to no good."

As she has worked across the street from the eyesore for several years, Dr. Rose Lepien says she always had hoped to see the complex become as vibrant as it once was.  But, she says the demolition put an end to those hopes.  "It's been so sad to have to see it sitting there empty, and not being used, and not being taken care of," she said.  "So in a way it's a pleasure to see a positive change across the street.  On the other hand I wish it didn't have to happen."

As previously reported on 7News, The City of Lawton is charging the owner of the complex - Bobby Mansell - has appeared in Comanche County District Court over this issue, and Mansell is to pay for the demolition costs.  Until the demolition is complete, Southwest 13th Street between Gore and "A" Avenue will be closed.  City officials advise motorists to avoid of the area.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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