Walnut Street, Roza Homes, fire, 920 E. Walnut
This house at 920 E. Walnut St. was built in 1912. Although damaged by fire and marked for demolition, it appears the building has a new future. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

OPINION |

It appears a building on historic East Walnut Street has been spared from demolition.

The structure at 920 E. Walnut caught fire Dec. 1, 2021, and suffered heavy damage. It was known as The Walnut Manor Apartments. That’s what the sign in the front yard still says.

Roza Homes, East Walnut Street, 920 E. Walnut St., fire
This house at 920 E. Walnut St. was built in 1912. A fire caused major damage in December 2021. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

The two-story (with attic) building was constructed in 1912. According to records with the Greene County Assessor’s office, it had — prior to the fire — 4,453 square feet, seven bathrooms and seven bedrooms.

No one was hurt in the blaze. Fire officials said the cause was accidental, due to faulty wiring in a first-floor apartment.

The fire started just after 4 p.m. and smoke from the blaze could be seen for blocks.

The building had been owned by L & M Realty LLC, which had purchased it from Laverne Kohl in April 2000.

New LLC owner has Roza Homes address

I checked records Tuesday and saw that it had been purchased in February this year —two months after the fire — by Walnut 920 LLC, an entity created six weeks after the fire.

The registered agent for Walnut 920 is Springfield attorney Craig F. Lowther, but more importantly, the address given for Walnut 920 LLC is 1122 E. Walnut St.

That’s the address for Roza Homes, which is a short walk down the street.

According to the company’s website:

“Welcome to Roza Homes, a community-based property management company that specializes in the management of off-campus student housing near Missouri State University in Springfield. We focus on bringing neglected properties and foreclosures back to life, putting the heart and soul back into homes that have seen better days. Resurrecting each property with modern, up-to-date features, we develop rental properties that people can be happy calling home!”

According to city records, the city declared the property blighted the day after the fire.

This is the rear of the house at 920 E. Walnut St. That is the high-rise at 350 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway behind it. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

Permit requests filed for renovation

In March and April, Walnut 920 applied for mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits for renovation, infill and remodeling.

The project manager listed on the permit applications is Scott Samson, who has been with Roza since 2014.

I called Roza Homes Tuesday afternoon to talk to Samson to confirm what appears to be the case by my visit to the house and by documents — it sure looks like this 110-year-old home will rise from its ashes.

Samson was on a job site, and I was unable to reach him.

This is Pokin Around column No. 57.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin