The Rundown – Options under consideration after downtown brick collapse
The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.
7 p.m. October 9, 2018, Newton City Commission meeting
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission heard a report about the status of the brick façade collapse at 519 N. Main.
On Sept. 24, bricks from the 1930s façade above A Pawn Shop fell, knocking down the large awning and littering the sidewalk with debris. Since then, the sidewalk and one lane of Main Street have remained cordoned off. The building’s owners, Mike Strong and Angela McCool, have been working with a structural engineer, as well as their insurance provider and the City’s Historic Preservation Commission to find a solution.
The building is a contributing property in the Downtown National Historic District, with the 1930s as its “period of significance.” The brick collapse exposed a second layer of brick underneath, which is believed to be from 1878.
The engineer’s preliminary report is that the instability appears to be limited to the eastern wall/façade and that the western side is stable and safe for business operations. The instability appears to be in the original 1878 wall. The engineer has preliminarily recommended two options to remediate the situation:
- Installation of a permanent brace inside the building to stabilize the wall.
- Removing the east façade and underlying 1878 structural wall and completely rebuilding the eastern portion of the building. Part of this option’s feasibility will depend on how much the original 1878 wall is damaged or how sound it remains.
It might also be possible to remove the 1930s façade and seal the 1878 brick as the external wall, if it is repairable, but the building’s historic listing would then need to be amended, with approval from the State and National historic preservation offices.
The property owner has indicated his intention to restore the building, but until a decision has been made about the manner of rebuilding, the area will remain barricaded. Commissioners expressed concerns about the extended period of time that Main Street traffic has been affected. A timeline has not been set for the repairs, but the property owners so far are making good faith efforts to make progress.
The Commission honored Newton Medical Center’s laboratory supervisor of quality services Aaron Hurst, who was named a 2018 Kansas Health Care Worker of the Year by the Kansas Hospital Association, and NMC Board member Jim Heinicke, who was named a 2018 Trustee of the Year by the KHA.
In other action, the City Commission:
- Approved a special event request to close Athletic Park Circle on Oct. 27 for the Monster Dash 5K/fun run.
- Approved the final plat for property on East First Street that the City acquired late last year to expand the Kansas Logistics Park.
- Approved the purchase of a piece of property in the industrial park that was inadvertently sold in a recent tax auction. The property at 1930 SE Ninth St. had been owned by Grafco LLC since 2008, but the company went out of business before becoming fully operational. Grafco’s development agreement included a clause reconveying the property to the City if the land was not developed. Harvey County was unaware of the reversionary clause and listed the land for auction, and it was purchased by Keely Clipper for $2,100. When Ms. Clipper became aware of the unpaid specials and development restrictions on the industrial land, she agreed to sell the lot to the City for the $2,100 price she paid. The Commission agreed it was in the City’s best interest to retain the property so it can be marketed and filled with a compatible industry.
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