News and Tribune

April 15, 2014

New Albany may demolish fire-damaged building

Also: Spring Street Hill to see more repairs

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — A former apartment building at 601 Silver St. damaged by fire last year may soon be razed by the city.

Utilities are in the process of being retired for the property, as the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety agreed to have gas service shutoff to the building on Tuesday.

New Albany Building Commissioner David Brewer said the property owners have yet to show interest in salvaging the structure, and the city may soon move forward with demolition.

“We feel obligated to protect the integrity of the neighborhood,” Brewer said.

A fire damaged much of the two-story apartment building — which is located near the Oak Street intersection — on Oct. 30. The building had been vacant for a few days prior to the fire.  

New Albany Fire Department investigator Joe Squier said Tuesday the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

There have been other structure fires in the neighborhood recently, including a blaze that destroyed much of a home at 2003 Culbertson Ave. in March. The city razed the house a few days after the fire, as well as a garage that had been damaged by a previous fire.

Squier said no determination has been made about the cause of those fires, but they are being investigated as one case. He added that agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have assisted with the investigation.

As for the demolition, the city would file a lien on the property to recoup its costs if the Silver Street building is razed.

Brewer said having utilities shutoff at the site will clear the way for the city to demolish the building if a resolution with the property owners can’t be quickly reached.

The city has also sent notifications to the owners of 34 structures that have been added to the unsafe structure list. The New Albany Building Commission will consider the future of those structures during its May 5 meeting.

More work for Spring Street Hill Road

Crews began performing “preventative maintenance” work along Spring Street Hill Road on Tuesday.

The road — which has been shutdown multiple times in recent years due to destabilization of the slope — will have one lane closed likely through next week.

Officials with Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz said the maintenance work is “expected and recommended,” according to a news release issued by the city.

“We are trying to protect our investment in this roadway,” Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson said.

During the board of works meeting, City Engineer Larry Summers said there’s a “slight soil slope that has slid a little bit” and that the maintenance work will “ensure the slope stays where it’s supposed to stay.”

Since 2011, the city has spent about $2 million to repair Spring Street Hill Road, which connects the city’s west end with Silver Hills.