I don’t think we have ever said that the building is close to collapse, but it is an imminent public safety hazard. The former Reed-Klopp building at the corner of Verity Parkway and Central Avenue is unsafe for occupancy and there is imminent danger of falling bricks and other debris.
The danger is not from the building collapsing but rather from the brick, roofing and other façade pieces breaking away and falling onto the public below. We’ve had a structural engineer out to review the condition of the building overall. Their best guess was that it would require over $150,000 to just stabilize the roof and façade to stop the immediate danger.
If you remember, there was a fairly substantial fire in that building a few years back. Our evaluation is that it would take over a million dollars to return the building to occupancy to comply with the various state codes. The current owners only paid $40,000 through an LLC to purchase the property. As you can imagine, we are having some difficulty getting them to commit three times the purchase price just to stabilize the façade.
I can take them to court for violation of the property maintenance code, resulting in a fine of $150.00. An ineffective solution.
We can sue the LLC which is protected in many ways under Ohio law as a Limited Liability Corporation from being saddled with taxpayer costs in this matter. We will review this option and take any action that might reasonably reimburse the city for taxpayer dollars spent.
We can assess the property for taxpayer costs and foreclose on our lien. Then, like Rose Furniture, it’s our problem. These types of properties, like the old library on First Avenue, become the City’s problem when everyone else walks away.
We can issue demolition orders, demolish the property using taxpayer dollars, and end up owning another vacant lot downtown for redevelopment at some undetermined future time.
All unattractive options.
There were a number of comments this weekend saying “no taxpayer dollars should be spent on this.” What is the alternative? Let the façade fall and kill someone? Then the City could be negligent for not abating a known danger and I can pay out taxpayer funds in a multimillion dollar settlement instead of abating the nuisance.
We are often the last and only resource standing. I hate it. You hate it. We shouldn’t have to pay for it. If not us, however, then who? We are the last line of defense in these situations. If the owner can’t or won’t stop the danger, it falls to us to protect the public.