Part of Ohio closed due to building concerns

January 8, 2013

South Ohio Avenue between Second Street and Gazebo Park will be closed until further notice after a structural engineer raised concerns about the integrity of several buildings effected after a fire last month.

The building at 208 and 210 S. Ohio Ave., which housed The Honey Hole Thriftshop and A Touch of Whimsey gift shop, was destroyed in a fire Dec. 14. Because of the intensity and size of the fire, the building was determined to be unsound and was partially demolished that day.

According to Community Development Director John Simmons, it’s general protocol to review adjoining buildings and streets after a fire.

“The engineer recommended closing Ohio Avenue for citizens’ safety and we’re in the process of evaluating the situation with the adjoining business,” he said. “Especially with these old businesses with adjoining walls, you have to take extra precautions.”

Gary Huddleston, owner of the Let’s Dance Ballroom Dance Club at 202 S. Ohio Ave., said he was told his building would be demolished this week.

“I got a call on Friday afternoon saying the

building had been determined to be structurally unsound and in immediate danger of collapse,” he said. “I’ve been moving my stuff out all weekend.”

Huddleston said the building, which is three buildings that have been opened into one, did not have fire damage and he believed it was structurally sound.

“There was a lot of smoke and water damage — my dance floor was completely ruined from the water — but the integrity of the building is fine,” he said. “I think, due to their premature decision to yank (the building at 208 and 210 S. Ohio Ave.) down, that may have had something to do with the problems they say I have now.”

Huddleston said he hadn’t yet spoken to his attorney about the issue, but, “if they intend to slap the bill for the demolition on me like they did with the Kindle buildings on Main Street, I’m going to fight that.”

Simmons said the city had not made a final decision on the adjacent buildings or if they needed to be taken down.

“We need to do a structural assessment and determine its viability,” he said.