In an on-going effort to keep our downtown businesses, residents and visitors informed as to the latest status of the West Main Street closure, we are providing a weekly update each Wednesday until the Cherry Street to Plum Street block is opened back up to vehicles.
CURRENT STATUS AS OF ABOVE DATE
It has been 104 days since West Main Street between Plum and Cherry Streets was closed due to the grave concerns of collapse of the Tavern Building. On September 11th, the Common Pleas Court issued an Entry publishing the opinion of its expert witness, Structural Engineer Daniel Geers. In that opinion, Mr. Geers did not communicate an opinion relative to the stability of the building. He did, however, state that:
If funds were not a concern, they [buildings including the Tavern Building] could be restored to their original condition, but this is likely economically unfeasible given the extent of the various deteriorations. Furthermore, the characteristics of these buildings are such that it would be challenging to convert them to a different use under the current Ohio Building Code, without incurring more expense than it would take to tear them down and construct completely new buildings.
Part of the Court’s Entry included the scheduling of a lawyers’ conference, which was held on September 22nd. That conference resulted in the Court lifting several minor ‘stays’ and ordering written briefs by October 20th to determine whether the injunction denying demolition of the building should be lifted.
This week, the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance (THPA) posted on its Facebook page several misstatements and assumptions regarding the City’s payment to and disclosures of the report of its outside structural engineer Norton Engineering. The THPA has stated that the City paid $23,000 for the Norton report and then “buried” that report. It is important to set that record straight as follows:
1. City taxpayers have paid $23,259 in 2023 for Norton to provide a peer review, independent assessment, analysis, and recommendations regarding the Tavern Building. That work included inspections of the building in March and June. That amount is for ALL work Norton has done and not for one report. The need to retain Norton was necessitated by the various conflicting engineering reports since 2021 from both sides of the issue. While the Court delayed the appointment of its own “expert” until much later, resulting in months of further delays to resolution of this matter, the City retained Norton in March of this year so that we could be informed as to the total costs of stabilizing the building in an effort to accept ownership;
2. The THPA also accuses the City of hiding this report, which was based on a June 1st inspection but not submitted until June 14th, concluded that the building was sound and stable at that time. This report was immediately shared with the Miami County Chief Building Official (CBO), who reviewed it but determined that the building had deteriorated and must be demolished. The report was also discussed with City Council during numerous closed-door meetings;
3. The CBO issued the order to demolish after a June 16th inspection - a full two weeks AFTER Norton’s June 1st inspection. Based on the CBO’s analysis (and that of his structural engineer) and subsequent conclusion that the building is beyond repair and must be demolished, Norton’s report became irrelevant and outdated;
4. The spending of $23,259 is only part of the taxpayer funds spent due to the continued legal wrangling. $41,254 has been spent so far in 2023 on these prolonged legal proceedings. Additional costs that have been paid or are pending are for outside legal services in the amount of $14,357; the rental of the fencing being used to barricade West Main Street between Cherry and Plum for $2,726; and written transcripts and other associated costs from the BZA’s rejection of an appeal by Evil Empire in the amount of $912;
5. It is important to note that after repair estimates from contractors including Level MB revealed significant potential costs and, after the CBO determined the building cannot be repaired, City Council rightly declined to assume future taxpayer liability of between $300,000 - $500,000;
6. Additionally, the indirect costs of continued staff hours, as well as the probable reduced economic activity due to the reduction in access to our downtown businesses cannot be accurately counted; and,
7. Given the CBO and Fire Chief’s certification that the building is unsafe and dangerous, it would be irresponsible for the City to allow vehicular and pedestrian traffic to pass within the Tavern Building’s ‘fall zone.’ Allowing such passage would expose travelers to potential harm and taxpayers to potential liability. Therefore, the City must continue to keep West Main Street between Plum and Cherry Streets closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic unless the CBO amends his order or the building is demolished, whichever comes first.
On June 16, 2023 the Miami County/Troy Chief Building Official (CBO), his Structural Engineer, as well as the Troy Fire Chief and Assistant Chiefs conducted an on-site inspection of the building located at 112-118 West Main Street, also known as the Tavern Building. As a result of that inspection, the CBO’s Structural Engineer determined “the possibility of collapse of the northern wall of this structure is a grave concern…it is obvious that this structure is beyond reasonable repair and should be demolished due to it being a safety concern for human life and potential damage to adjacent structures.”
Based on that report, the Miami County Prosecutor filed a court motion requesting the Judge to order the building demolished. The CBO and Fire Chief also certified “…that the demolition of [The Tavern Building] is required by public safety because of unsafe or dangerous conditions.” On June 24th, the City installed barricades at the intersections of West Main Street between Cherry and Plum Streets. That section of West Main Street remains closed to vehicular traffic, as well as to pedestrian traffic in front of the Tavern Building.
The City of Troy is committed to providing up-to-the-minute information regarding this unfortunate issue and will be monitoring its status and will post updates on our social media and websites. Contact (937) 335-1725 if questions.