Council discusses possible demolition of buildings | New

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Mayor Rob Rappold and two council members urged Beckley City Council on Tuesday to take action to demolish a plummeting building at 227 Prince Street, but the mayor said he would also consider a sale to a private investor who contacted Ward 3 Councilor Robert Dunlap.

The mayor said any purchaser of the building would have a strict schedule to ensure they comply with the city code for public safety.

Last week, the city closed N. Heber Street because bricks were bulging on the side of the building. Several have since fallen.

Ward 4 Councilor Kevin Price, who is a retired firefighter and now serves as Raleigh County’s fire coordinator, had alerted Rappold of the bulging brick. Price reported at the regular council meeting on Tuesday that he walked past the building with an architect and engineer earlier this week and found the building to show more signs of impending collapse.

“The facade of the building is now starting to do pretty much the same as the collapsed side wall,” Price reported. “He’s probably moved a good inch from where he was just a few weeks ago.

“I would say the internal interior that caused the sidewall to collapse is now pressing down on the front, so whatever we do, we don’t have to wait.

At-Large advisor Sherrie Hunter said she was in favor of the building being demolished as soon as possible.

“I think we should speed up the destruction of the building, as quickly as possible, lest something else happen, similar to Main Street,” she said.

In June 2020, the roof of a historic Main Street building collapsed, destroying the building and a newly renovated law firm next door. Due to the early hour of the collapse, no one was injured.

The city bought 227 Prince Street for $ 111,000 with the intention of demolishing it and turning it into a parking lot.

But when the demolition was presented to council in March, there were three new members, Dunlap, At-Large Councilor Cody Reedy and Ward 2 Councilor Bob Canter.

The new council was reluctant to make the immediate decision to demolish the building, which stands across from the County Raleigh Courthouse and in the historic downtown plaza.

Rappold, Hunter, and Price had asked Empire Salvage to demolish the building for $ 62,000, which was the offer Empire had made to clear the grounds of the old medical lab.

Council voted in April to “table” approval for the demolition.

Ward 1 Councilor Tom Sopher and Dunlap had wanted the city’s Historic Monuments Board involved in the decision, as a recent wave of demolitions of old buildings threatened the city center’s status on the National Places Register historical. At-Large City Councilor Cody Reedy said he wanted to see if a buyer for the building showed up.

For about five months, the city closed part of the main street to protect pedestrians and motorists, while the site was cleared. The closure resulted in the closure of a business, Roma Pizza Curry and Grill, its Main Street restaurant.

After the roof collapsed, the city commissioned engineers to inspect older buildings in the city center. During this inspection process, according to the mayor, inspectors told the city that 227 Prince Street posed a safety hazard.

Rappold said last week that if council didn’t take action to demolish the building, it would ask City Attorney Bill File for the ability to use his own authority to condemn and demolish the falling building as a safety measure.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Rappold briefed council on the plans. He said a workshop for the council will be held on October 4 to discuss the state of the structure and the options available.

Dunlap said he would notify a woman who has made a verbal offer to buy the lot for around $ 10,000 that if she wants to buy the property, she must have the offer in writing by October 4.

“I will communicate to the investor that, if they have a written offer, they must submit it to this workshop to be considered,” he said.

Rappold said he had met with the investor regarding “another matter”.

“I was firm in my suggestion that, if his offer to go ahead were accepted, it would require precise architectural plans, it would require financial authentication of his financial means to take something like that, and it would require a precise schedule, ”says Rappold. “Again, in my opinion, the numbers she threw, which were less than $ 10,000, when we paid $ 111,000 for the property, with a demolition quote of $ 62,000, the numbers didn’t match. not, in my opinion, to her or, perhaps, anyone’s favor at this point.

“It will be a very valuable property,” he added. “If we don’t attract the independent investor who wants to start from scratch and do something meaningful on Prince Street, then the city can take charge, by doing it itself, through a public-private partnership.

“It would not be my intention, or that of the council, to have a vacant lot in such a good location.”

Rappold added that Dunlap’s suggestion was “good” and “I don’t think the board would disagree with you in approaching the interested party”.

City treasurer Billie Trump said state law requires the city to give two weeks notice before demolition.

Rappold said a special council meeting to discuss the building could be called before October 4.

At the October 4 workshop, Rappold said, the board will likely discuss the Beckley Sanitary Board buying a property near the Moose Club on New River Drive.

•••

Price alerted the council that “several” wheelchair access points on the Prince Street side terminate “a car length or two” beyond the actual crosswalk, which would put people with disabilities in the middle. traffic rather than the intended crosswalk.

He reported that one is right at First Christian Church on Prince Street, and a wheelchair access point on Fayette Street also ends in the wrong place.

He said that a person with a disability using a wheelchair and confident that the access point will lead them to the crosswalk is more likely to end up in “the middle of traffic.”

“It would be a Frogger game for someone to try to cross the street, let alone a wheelchair,” Price said, referring to a 1981 Sega arcade game that required players to cross a “ frog “to a busy street. “When (a contracted construction company) did all of this, they put it back wrong.

“This needs to be resolved and see if we can change that.”

Wheelchair access points were added in September 2020, when teams from the State Division of Highways (DOH) replaced 14 existing traffic lights. The mayor said that a Bramwell company, W.Va., had sunk the new crosswalks.

“The quality of the work they did was exceptional, in my opinion,” said Rappold, adding: “But we will definitely follow through on this.”

In other actions:

• Rappold noted that Hunter and Ward 5 Councilor Janine Bullock have been recognized in newspaper articles as “women leaders”. He congratulated them both.

• Hunter thanked Jane Haga and the employees of the Beckley Beautification Committee and the Public Works Council for servicing the hanging baskets throughout town during the summer.

• Hunter thanked Code Enforcement Captain Donny Morgan for helping rid the town of rubbish.

• Hunter reported that there was a problem with a house on Crescent Road across from the old BB&T building. Rappold responded that problems had developed with a large sewer line that the contractors had installed and the proper protocol may not have been followed. No further discussion took place on the subject.

• Rappold said the city will observe Halloween on Sunday, Oct. 31, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

• Dunlap thanked the enforcement of the Code and the Public Works Council.

• Dunlap has announced that a new cafe will officially open in downtown Friday at 7 am. The Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce will be holding a ribbon cutting Friday at 4 p.m.


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