Downtown Hartford City has lost another of its old buildings. A hole opened in the Southeast corner of the century old vacant building at 110 East Washington Street on May 1. First responders reported to the scene and meetings with a structural engineer to assess the situation began. “Safety is our main concern,” stated Mayor Dan Eckstein. “There is a process that we must go through to make sure that the building is taken down safely, unfortunately that process takes time,” he explained. “We also began talking with the manager of the apartment building across the alley at this time,” the Mayor explained.
Unfortunately that was time that the building did not have. Last Wednesday, the rear portion of the building crumbled to the ground. A resident of the apartment building received relatively minor injuries when a falling brick struck them in the hip. The residents of the 11 apartments in the building have been evacuated until the building can be safely taken down. Some have family that they are staying with, The Red Cross has assisted others in finding housing. “We have also been working with the office of the Lieutenant Governor and State Representative J.D. Prescott to find temporary housing for those residents,” said Eckstein.
Testing on the building was conducted on Monday to determine if there are any materials, such as asbestos that might cause any safety issues with the demolition of the building. “We need to get this done as quickly and safely as possible to get these people back into their homes,” stated the Mayor.
The building is owned by a company that no longer exists and has been vacant for years. A building on West Main Street partially collapsed in 2019. The Owners of the Magic Corner in downtown Hartford City have begun a fundraising project to help them to pay for a new roof on the historic Ervin building to hopefully prevent any further damage to the building from its badly leaking roof. Many of the other downtown buildings could be facing similar issues if owners neglect maintenance issues for too long.
“There are certain steps that we have to go through and we are trying to get through them as quickly as we can,” stated Building Commissioner Anne Baker Owen. “It’s unfortunate, but we are working with the structural engineer to determine the safest and quickest way to take the rest of the building down. We’re also working with the apartment building’s manager to get the people back in their homes as soon as possible,” she continued. “We have also spoken to Congressman Jim Banks and FEMA to help get funding to take the building down,” added the Mayor.
“Downtown is the heart of our community. It’s come a long way in the last few years. We need to do what we can to protect these buildings. Unfortunately we can’t save them all,” stated Eckstein. “There are things in the works to address our situation,” he added. “Property Standards and the structural engineer are working on a way to have yearly safety inspections of these buildings perhaps even every six months,” stated Eckstein.
“I grew up just a few blocks from downtown,” stated City Councilman Dustin George. “These buildings have special memories for me and many other residents. I think we need to have a town hall meeting and allow residents to give their input about what to do about saving these buildings,” he continued. “These buildings are an important part of our history and we need to do everything we can to preserve them,” said George.
“We want to thank AEP, our Police and Fire Departments, the City Workers, the Red Cross, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, State Representative J.D. Prescott, and the Office of Congressman Jim Banks, for all of their diligent work and help they have provided in dealing with this crisis,” said Eckstein and Owen. “Once the results of the tests come back, the building will be taken down as safely and quickly as possible. If all goes well, the apartment residents will hopefully be able to safely return home within the next week,” stated the Mayor.