Kenner demolishes geodesic dome house _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The city of Kenner demolished the dome house on Utah St. ORG XMIT: BAT1412191349258862

Kenner has torn down the geodesic dome house on Utah Street.

The house’s unique architecture made it a memorable structure nestled among the homes between Interstate 10 and the Esplanade Mall. But the damage it sustained during Hurricane Katrina and the years of neglect that followed gave the city no choice but to take it down, said Aimee Vallot, Kenner’s code enforcement director.

A major factor in the decision to demolish was that the estimated cost to repair the building was more than 50 percent of its value, which meant it would have had to be elevated if it was repaired, she said.

Gilbert Bailey, who built the house in 1981, said the elevation would have added as much as $50,000 to the estimated $90,000 cost of renovation.

He asked the City Council for more time, saying the house would not have to be elevated according to new flood maps expected to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Vallot, however, said the city couldn’t let the blighted structure stand for another year or more and couldn’t carve out exceptions for any one property owner.

“We have to use what’s in place right now,” she said.

The city put a lien on the property to recoup the roughly $14,000 cost of Friday’s demolition plus administrative expenses.

Bailey, who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida, built the house after being inspired by a lecture given at LSU by architect and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller.

Bailey had moved to Minnesota shortly before Katrina damaged the property and had just changed his address, which he said made him ineligible for federal grant money to fix the house.

Bailey said Monday he probably will try to sell the lot.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.