POINT PLEASANT — The City of Point Pleasant has an unwanted, unlikely tourist attraction (falling) down on Main Street.
For a few weeks now, the building at 318 Main St. has been a concern to city officials who felt the structure had become unsound. Last month caution tape went up to prevent residents from walking or parking near the building and when a hard rain caused a chunk of bricks to fall into an adjacent alleyway, a section of Main Street was closed. This section of Main Street between Fourth Street and Third Street remains closed to traffic. The sidewalk on the opposite side of the street has since reopened.
At any time of the day or evening, onlookers can be observed standing on the sidewalk, looking up at the building as if it were that unwanted and unlikely tourist attraction. Motorists leaving the post office will brake a little longer than normal to stare at it too, wondering when “it” will happen - “it” being collapse or be torn down.
Mayor Brian Billings and City Inspector Jeremy Bryant said they are constantly receiving calls about the situation and though it appears nothing is getting done on the surface, they say this isn’t true.
“There’s not been one day go by that we haven’t worked toward a solution,” Bryant said. “Our hope is that it’s down as soon as possible.”
Bryant said the building is a unique case because in the middle of city officials determining the building was unsafe, the building was changing ownership. Bryant said this ownership is still not finalized which has added a layer of even more legal obstacles to getting this hazard on Main Street gone. Bryant said there’s a perception this process is easy but there’s much more involved.
Bryant said the new owner will likely be Craig Allman of Parkersburg who owns other property in Mason County. Bryant and Billings said Allman and his legal representative seem to agree the building needs torn down. Bryant said he doesn’t feel Allman is resistant to tearing down the building, it’s just a process to get to the place where it can be done. Bryant also said there is a concern asbestos could be in the building which would mean testing and if positive, the property owner would have to take on an additional expense of this removal.
The expense of tearing down the property falls to the owner. For now, all the city can do is close the street and rope off around the building to protect the public. If the new owner doesn’t tear down or rehab the building, the city could take further legal action though as Bryant put it, he feels the new owner is trying to comply with bringing the building down as this process unfolds.
Bryant guessed lack of maintenance and upkeep, as well as age, contributed to the building’s current condition. He also added all utilities to the building have been shut off though there are other active utilities near it going to existing buildings - again, another concern.
Both Billings and Bryant said their main concern is public safety. Additional concerns include the street closure affecting the nearby business community and even the upcoming regatta.
Billings added: “Something’s got to give.”