KOLR – OzarksFirst.com

City Council unanimously invokes eminent domain for Hotel of Terror

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield City Council voted 9-0 tonight to classify a seasonal attraction as eminent domain.

Talks have stalled between the city and the owner of the Hotel of Terror on how much it would cost to move.

Owner Sterling Mathis said he has no problem moving his building. He said that in order to preserve the structure, he’d need around a million dollars.

KOLR 10 caught up to Mathis after the vote came down from council.

“They had it planned right from the get-go,” Mathis said. “I emailed all of them, I got three responses, which basically were just basic responses from them. Nobody else cared enough to even respond to the emails.”

The City of Springfield said they feel they’ve made fair market values over time using independent appraisers for the property.

“[Eminent Domain] will allow us to file the paperwork with the courts to keep that moving. But at the same time, hopefully continue negotiations with the property owner,” Chris Dunnaway with the City of Springfield said. “[The offer] doesn’t include relocation expenses, which are still reimbursable and something the city has offered.”

Mathis says he was initially offered $200,000 four years ago.

“I’m disappointed in the in the city here,” Mathis said. “You know, I mean, we’ve been bringing people down here for 45 years and we try to give a good place, a fun place for people to to have a great time.”

The purpose of buying the Hotel of Terror is to get the last piece of land needed for the project to daylight Jordan Creek.

The city would extend the creek channel north to reduce flooding and repair the Main Avenue bridge but in order to do that, the hotel would need to be gone.

Since the city voted to put an eminent domain status on the property, three independent people will determine the price for the property.

That recommendation will be taken to a judge for review. If the city agrees to pay that amount, it would take ownership of the land and Mathis would have 90 days to get his personal property.

Friends and workers connected to the Mathis family and the Hotel of Terror showed up to City Council for support.

“I think it’s sad. I think the whole thing’s sad,” Mike Penland said. “I mean, this is history for Springfield, Greene County. I understand progress, but there’s other ways to do this.”

“It honestly hurts my feelings.” Robert Cook said. “This place is a living, breathing work of art.”

Councilman Andrew Lear spoke before voting, saying the motion isn’t taking the property from the Mathis family, but ensuring the Jordan Creek project can continue.