Bldg. owners mull next move after fire

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 18, 2007

Downtown business owners are working together to coordinateplans to demolish what is left of the buildings that wee heavilydamaged in a May 24 fire, City Building Inspector Walter Templesaid Friday.

He said State Farm had notified him that the building housingBrookhaven Cycle and Sport and Crowley Dance Center is structurallysound and needs some minor work, but that any demolition orcleaning of the adjoining buildings needs to be done gingerly.

“The adjacent structures should be carefully demolished in ordernot to cause any more damage,” Temple said. “We all knew that tobegin with, and we need to coordinate that. The building ownersneed to work together to get the cleanup done, and I understandthey’re trying to get bids.”

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Fire Chief Bob Watts said Thursday he had been informed that thefirewall between the Crowley building and where Posey Place stoodcan remain, with some work.

Temple said State Farm had detailed the work that needs to bedone in his communications with them.

“They said the exterior face of the common wall needs to bewaterproofed, and they need to repair some of the bricks byreplastering and applying new stucco,” said Temple. “There’s someminor electrical work that needs to be done upstairs in the dancestudio, and they need to replace some of the vinyl.”

Meanwhile, Posey Place owner Jan Bullock said she and CharlesLofton, the owner of the building housing Tri-County Loans,Louise’s Family Fashion and Brookhaven Electronics, are trying tofigure out their next move.

“We’re kind of at square one. We had heard that there werepeople interested in doing cleanup for the salvage because oldbrick is very valuable,” she said. “At this point we’re having tolook at hiring someone to knock the existing walls down, and a crewto do cleanup.”

Bullock said the sheer amount of debris from the fire has lefther and Lofton in a bit of a bind financially.

“My insurance doesn’t cover debris removal,” she said. “The cityhas offered to help with dumpsters and removal of debris, and thatwill help greatly. But both of us are kind of left on our ownhere.”

Bullock said she had been interested in trying to save thefacade of her building, but that it didn’t look feasible fromestimates she has received.

“We’ve gotten an estimate to try to save a few of the walls thatwere still standing,” she said. “As much as I would dearly love tosave any of it, realistically there’s no way to do it. We’d like touse the same brick on the new front, but we can’t save the currentfacade.”

She said her concern is for the community as much as it is forher own business.

“We’d like to go in tomorrow and get it cleaned up for the sakeof all concerned,” Bullock said. “But from a financial angle thatwon’t happen overnight. But we want to do it soon, because we don’twant everyone to have to look at this terrible thing for long.”

Bullock said, though, once the debris is cleared and time andmoney allow, she plans to bring her business back better thanever.

“We do intend to rebuild, and while it won’t be the samebeautiful old building but it will be safe and will have many yearshere to come,” she said. “While we’ll never be able to replace abuilding as grand as the old East Pharmacy, we will replace it withsomething the city will be proud of.”