Owensboro residents react to Gabe’s Tower agreement


As Gabe’s Tower changes hands once again, this time to the city of Owensboro, who plan to tear down the building, residents look back on its past and react to its immediate future.

The city agreed to a deal to buy it from owner Bob Zimmerman for $360,000.

It’s stood just off Triplett Street for more than five decades.

“I remember when they built it,” says Tony Wood of Owensboro.

“I remember when I was kid, I thought that it was really special,” recalls Bethany Spencer of Owensboro. 

But in the future, only memories of the tower will be left standing.

“I think the local government here in Owensboro ought to look twice before tearing it down,” says Clay Basham of Maceo, Ky.

“They’ve been saving this for the past five years now, nobody’s ever done anything with it. It just keeps getting worse,” Wood says.

City Manager Nate Pagan says they plan to demolish the building and evaluate the site’s long term options. He also described the 13-story tower as an eyesore and dilapidated. Zimmerman bought the tower in Spring of 2017 from a Pennsylvania based group, just as the city was about to take the building over. Last Fall. Zimmerman rejected an offer of $300,000 from the city.

The tower had many different owners over the years and each of those owners had their own ideas for the building, but none of those ideas could ever help restore the tower to what it once was. Zimmerman told Eyewitness News last year there was interest to turn the tower into a facility with housing for veterans. Past owners have tried to make it a hotel just like it was when it was first built.

“That building could be used for several things: veterans shelter, homeless shelter. It’s got great possibilities and the city don’t see it that way. All they see is tax dollars,” says Basham.

“I just think that what it would cost to refurbish it would be far more than construction and I don’t think it’s that practical,” adds Spencer.

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(This story was originally published on April 20, 2019)

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