City stabilizes buildings

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Submitted Photo Stabilization: The alley behind the buildings in the 100 block of West Washington Street is shown during work to stabilize a deteriorating building. The alley has been closed for weeks while the city directed crews to analyze its condition and clean out the interior.

City officials are directing repairs and structural stabilization of two vacant commercial structures in the downtown historic district.

Located at 147 and 149 W. Washington St., the buildings are damaged and deteriorated, according to a news release from the city.

An adjacent alley that leads to the city’s Cherry Street parking lot has been closed for several weeks while the city completed a structural analysis and interior inspection of the buildings. The structures also caught fire in 2009, damaging adjacent businesses.

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The owners, George Hranowskyj and Eric Menden, have owned the structures since 2008 and have accumulated about $300,000 in fines, clean-up and demolition expenses, and court costs for city and state building code violations across the 75 buildings they own in the downtown area, according to the news release.

Last week, the interior of the buildings were cleaned out, a process that included the removal of flammable and combustible materials. All costs for the cleanup and stabilization work will be assessed by the city as liens on the properties, according to the news release. Once the properties are sold, the city could be able to recoup some of that money.

The alley is expected to be reopened by the end of next week, according to the release.

In addition to the work on West Washington, eight vacant structures deemed “blighted” by city officials have been demolished since July 1, continuing a program of eliminating buildings that are attracting criminal activity and presenting significant problems for community development officials.

The city continues to work to identify similar structures to target for enforcement, the news release said.