POINT PLEASANT — A piece of Main Street began to come down this week as the demolition of the former Franklin Building commenced.
Onlookers watched as the buildings at 420 and 422 Main Street, where many bought clothes and shoes years ago, began to tumble into rubble.
Point Pleasant City Council has been debating for years about what to do with its side of the Franklin Building, given to it by the former owners and as time wore on, the condition of the building wore as well, causing issues and safety concerns for those on either side of it — including the former Wallpaper Outlet store owned by a private individual. The side of the Franklin Building where the Wallpaper Outlet sat is coming down as well, with that private owner retaining the deed to that property.
This week, asbestos abatement was completed and demolition began on the property by E&R Excavating Co. personnel out of New Haven for $61,260 — the company had the lowest bid for the project. The City of Point Pleasant has already paid $10,000 for the asbestos abatement and is relying on money from a USDA revolving loan fund to pay for demolition.
As previously reported, the city had been working with Main Street Point Pleasant Director Charles Humphreys to obtain money from a revolving loan fund from the USDA made available to Main Street Point Pleasant. This is not a loan for the city, but free and clear funds in the form of an economic development grant to help pay for bringing down the structure.
The USDA often has many requirements for obtaining funds depending on which program the funds fall under. This week, Humphreys said the city is in compliance with following procedures to obtain these specific USDA funds.
Humphreys said, “This is not a historic preservation issue but an economic impact issue.”
Humphreys said the deterioration of the structure was also a safety issue and could impact existing businesses on either side. In addition, he said he wants to attempt to bring businesses into developing that space. If any business chose to relocate in the area, he said it would have to adhere to the zoning and aesthetics of the the historic district to blend into the space.
The city had more recently made some repairs to the parapet of the structure in an attempt to alleviate some safety concerns and at one time there was discussion on possibly saving the facade of the building. All of this, of course, requires a significant amount of money and the liability insurance on the structure alone, was $8,000 annually. After much discussion, council made the unanimous decision to bring down the building last month with the anticipated assistance from these USDA funds. During those discussions, both the issues of safety concerning the building and having space which could be developed by future businesses were brought to the council table.
The demolition will cease for the weekend and resume next week when it’s also expected to wrap up, according to city officials.
A request for information to the USDA concerning the specific program these funds fall under, and when funds would be released, was not immediately returned by press time.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.