Madison’s iconic Key West Shrimp House has been closed since May 2021, but there are now indications of plans for a new restaurant at that site overlooking the Ohio River.
At Tuesday’s Madison Board of Public Works and Safety (BPWS) meeting, approval was given to vacate an alley that goes through the parking lot south of the Key West Shrimp House building. The final action to vacate requires approval of an ordinance by City Council, which also requires a public hearing.
Madison Realtor Jim Pruett represented Scott and Susan Koerner, owners of the Key West Shrimp House building, 117 Ferry St., that he said has been for sale since shortly after it closed.
“We received an offer to purchase which was acceptable to the seller,” said Pruett. “One of the conditions in the offer was that the alley be vacated between the parking lot and property that the building is on. The new owners would like to combine the two parcels into one parcel. Their desire is to operate this as a restaurant.”
Pruett added that because the interested buyers are not his client he did not have much information about their plans.
Pruett noted that Scott Koerner, who owned and operated Key West for a portion of the more than 50 years the restaurant has been at the property, wasn’t aware of the alley that is approximately 80 feet long running from Ferry Street west to a creek that’s an unnamed tributary to the Ohio River. He said the legal description in the deed was ambiguous in its wording on whether it had previously been vacated. “We could not find any records that it had been vacated,” Pruett said.
“This is a little bit of strange one because that language has been on the deed for at least 60 years,” city attorney Joe Jenner said. “However, we can’t find it got put on there through the vacation process.”
Jenner said he thinks the “intent was that it was vacated” but it’s not known for sure. So, he described the action to vacate the alley as more of “cleanup”.
The structure, originally built as a button factory in the late 1800s, became the Key West Shrimp House in 1968. The original Key West Shrimp House opened Oct. 27, 1950, in Indianapolis, and eventually expansion added locations in Gas City, Frankfort, Bloomington, Kokomo and Madison. The Madison location’s closing came as the last Key West Shrimp House still in operation.
• Heard an update on unsafe structures by Duey O’Neal, the city’s code enforcement officer, and Landon Ralston, the building inspector, in which they said there are 103 structures in the city that have been deemed unsafe. Ralston said the majority of unsafe structures are abandoned, but while abandonment can be a factor, structures can also be cited as unsafe if they are dilapidated and in disrepair even with people living in them. “It can be any kind of hazard to public safety or welfare,” he said.
Three addresses were highlighted at Tuesday’s meeting including 319 Cragmont St., 307 Hendricks St. and 1483 West Hutchinson Lane.
Ralston said the owner at 319 Cragmont St. has indicated the living room area is inhabitable and they have moved out of the house with plans to sell in the next month. Ralston indicated there have been efforts to repair the structure but it remains open to the elements. He said an inspection of the house has been scheduled.
Ralston said the house at 307 Hendricks St. has been abandoned and open to the elements. Board member Karl Eaglin said he knew the people who once lived there, and said the owner died many years ago, and his son was in the process of getting the house legally put in his name when he also died. Eaglin is unsure if there are other family members to take care of the property.
Ralston said the house at 1483 West Hutchinson Lane has only two posts holding up the porch and is also open to the elements.
Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said the problem of unsafe structures is “pretty large both downtown and on the hilltop.” He said the “only way to eradicate these unsafe structures is to have our eyes on them, and collaboratively with the property owners, preferably, and when that fails then we have to follow the necessary steps in order to abate the nuisance elements ourselves.”
• Approved street closings for the Farmers Market at the Broadway Fountain on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning May 6 and ending Sept. 23. Also approved the same street closings on Sept. 30 during the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Approved a change order for the Crystal Beach Pool House of $19,292 that brought the contract to $2,389,885. Courtney said the change orders dealt with requirements necessary for the occupancy permit for fire safety in the elevator and acoustics in the space.
• Approved a final PACE award of $3,520 to Eric and Vickie Shuck for 308 East Third St. for replacement of the front door.
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