Residents, business owners and building owners who live or work near the vacant Asiana restaurant on North Market Street say they have either given up or are trying their best not to.
They tried to contain their excitement in October when they saw workers carrying tools and materials into the building at 123 N. Market St., which has been vacant for more than a decade.
But, since then, the city has put a stop to the work.
The owners, Myung and Duk Hee Ro, did not request the proper permits, according to city documents. And they still have not corrected safety issues in the upstairs apartments that have been a concern since before April 2012, when the city first condemned the building.
The Ros did not answer multiple phone calls last week for comment.
Those who live or work nearby say they wonder when, or if, the city will get a handle on the situation.
The city told the Ros in a Jan. 6 letter they have until March 6 to submit permits to fix safety issues or else they will be issued a $1,000 fine; however, Zack Kershner, the city's director of public works, said the city will not necessarily hold them to that.
"If they don't meet the deadline and yet have shown significant progress, we may allow them a short extension," Kershner said. "If they haven't made progress, we will issue the fine."
Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty said the situation "is out of control."
"There is no direction that says, 'We are going to enforce the code,'" she said. "There is nobody that is directing the staff to push this forward."
Bob Kannor, owner of Viniferous on North Market Street, said he has done "all a citizen can do" to try and improve the situation.
"If the people who are in power in the city really wanted to do something, they would," he said.
During the city's election last fall, residents told candidates that vacant and blighted properties were one of their greatest concerns.
Five days before the city's primary election on Sept. 5, Mayor Randy McClement and the Board of Aldermen approved a new city regulation called receivership. Receivership allows the city to take the owner of a habitually vacant, unsafe and nuisance property to court, where the owner could be forced to make upgrades or where the court could take the property and sell it to a qualified owner to fix up.
McClement said receivership would be used as a last line of defense, after the city had documented all fines and issues with repeat offenders.
But since October, the city has not issued one fine, fee or citation regarding the Asiana building. The city issued one citation on one of the Ros' properties at 300 N. Market St., the old location of That Cuban Place, for a broken window, but the fine was lifted when the owners complied, said Dan Hoffman, the city's code enforcement manager.
The permit the city issued in October was for demolition only. In early November, a "concerned citizen" and inspectors took photos showing that the contractors were doing new framing, electrical and plumbing work without proper permits, according to a Nov. 5 email from Todd Himes, the city's building manager, to Kershner.
Himes told Kershner that the city would typically issue a stop work order with a $150 removal fee, and double the permit fees for the proper permits.
But Kershner wrote back to Himes and said not to issue the order or fee, but to tell the owner to stop work and submit applications for permits.
"I spoke with the mayor," Kershner wrote. "We are going to give them one opportunity to comply."
The city has issued about five to 10 of the stop work orders to other property owners in the last year, Himes and Kershner said.
The Ros have yet to submit applications for framing, electrical and plumbing permits.
Instead, in mid-November, they submitted applications for four permits for work to upstairs apartments.
The city placed all four permits on hold in mid-December and sent the Ros the Jan. 6 letter.
Since then, city staff has "maintained an open line of communication with the contractor and architect," Kerhner wrote in an email.
Dougherty said the situation is bad for everyone — residents, building owners and business owners. Dougherty owns Magoo's Pub on West Second Street.
"It reveals a lack of commitment to the value that we all see downtown," she said.
Kannor said he just would like downtown to be a better place.
"It just needs to become more vibrant," he said.
Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson.