City decides to save collapsed downtown building - WNEM TV 5

City decides to save collapsed downtown building

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
Source: WNEM Source: WNEM

A section of a building collapsed in downtown Saginaw in May and now the city has decided to save it.

The back of the vacant building at 126 N.Washington Ave. came down with a loud roar just after 6 a.m. on May 16.

The cement and bricks caved in, cutting through the sheet of metal covering the facade and sending bricks and other items into the TV5 parking lot. 

John Stemple, the City of Saginaw's Chief Inspector, said they are doing what they can to figure out what happened.

"We are evaluating the structural integrity of the remainder of the building. We haven't determined what actions we are going to take at this point," Stemple said in May.

He said he's been in contact with the owner and the city has done work on this portion of the building in the past.

"In this case there were some repairs that were made to the building and to the back wall. We did have some action coming from the back of it because there was some issues with a portion of the building," Stemple said.

He said the repairs were made three to four years ago.

Firefighters said the collapse could be due to the age of the building.

One woman who lives next door said the building has been empty for nearly 15 years and she doesn't believe it has been properly maintained. The building has been condemned.

The city crunched the numbers and determined it would be cheaper to save the building rather than tear it down.

The cost to city taxpayers is about $175,000.

Stemple said the city is currently working with an engineering firm and contractors to build a wall that will make the building structurally sound. The city is footing the bill, calling it emergency action.

The city is doing it because the building's owner, William Irish, has not secured it in the allotted time. 

"All we can do is follow the laws we have on the books. We have a responsibility to the other property owners in that area to otherwise make it safe and you know, that's what the city's going to do," Stemple said.

Stemple said because this is taxpayer funded, city ordinance allows the minimum amount of work to make sure the building is safe and weather-resistant.

The city said they have cited Irish and will send him a bill for the work they complete in hopes of having the taxpayer money returned to the city.

>>Slideshow: Downtown building collapses<<

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