Countdown begins for Chipley’s Mongoven building demolition

The City of Chipley is one step closer to demolition of the Mongoven building.

Located at the corner of South Railroad Avenue and 5th Street, the once iconic building-turned-eyesore has fallen into a state of deterioration after years of neglect.

The city was awarded an $852,800 grant in August 2021 from Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for the reacquisition and demolition of the building.

The DEO grant was finally finalized and formally accepted by the Chipley City Council when the board met in April, setting in motion the demolition of the 118-year-old structure. Once demolition is complete, grant funds will also be used to repurpose the site with the construction of a park area.

Council members have plans to salvage as much of the building’s history as possible prior to demolition, including the iconic “First National Bank” steps and the marble found throughout the dilapidated structure.

Built in 1905 as the First National Bank, the historic site has been used for other businesses and government offices to include a bakery and district school board office. The most recent owner of the property, Kristy Aycock Speights, purchased the building at auction in 2019, for $1,000. 

The agreement signed between Speights and the city called for a demolition permit or all permits and development orders necessary to bring the building up to code be obtained within six months after the purchase date. The agreement also required all renovations or demolition projects to be completed within three years and further provided the city with an option to repurchase the property.

Speights was unable to restore the building due to family medical issues allowing the city to repurchase the property. 

The City has not yet had the property appraised for fair market value; however, the site’s 2021 taxable value was assessed at $12,270 with the building itself being listed at a zero-dollar value and more than half the site’s value placed on the land itself. 

The last private sale of the property was for $95,000 in 2005 to Dennis and Sally Carrasquillo. The site sat mostly abandoned during that time and was ultimately condemned the next year, falling even further into disrepair and assessing code violations until the city foreclosed on the code enforcement fines and acquired the property in 2018. A fence was placed around the property soon after the foreclosure to help address safety concerns.

Mayor Tracy Andrews says the city is ready to move forward with the reacquisition.

“We have been dealing with the Mongoven for several years,” said Andrews. “It is time to move ahead on getting it taken care of. Once we receive the funding, we can begin the process of reacquisition and demolition.”

The is not yet a definite time line on when the demolition process will begin.