Third building in Warren to come down soon

Machinery sits atop a pile of debris resulting from the demolition of the former Gene’s Market and Racketty-Packetty Shop in downtown Warren.
Machinery sits atop a pile of debris resulting from the demolition of the former Gene’s Market and Racketty-Packetty Shop in downtown Warren. Photo by Steve Clark.

A third building in downtown Warren will be razed following a structure collapse that resulted in the emergency demolition of two other vacant buildings, the
Warren Town Council decided on Monday, July 8.

All other buildings in a two-block area of downtown will be evaluated for their structural soundness, the council decided.

The roof at the former Gene's Market building collapsed Friday evening, July 5, as the Salamonie Summer Festival parade was winding down. The brick facade came crashing down onto the sidewalk, but the crowd that was gathered to watch the parade had scattered when they heard the building begin to make worrisome noises.

Officials ordered the immediate demolition of the Gene's Market building, at 122 N. Wayne St., and the building to its south, the former Rackety-Packety Shop, at 118 N. Wayne St.

Monday morning, the town council gathered for an emergency meeting to assess the situation and followed the recommendation of a structural engineer to demolish the building at 124 N. Wayne St., just north of Gene's Market. The demolition of that building could begin yet this week, Warren Clerk-Treasurer Marilyn Morrison said.

The building at 124 N. Wayne St. was acquired by the town in April after it was abandoned by the owner and did not receive any bids in a county tax sale. At that time, the second floor of that building - which most recently housed a beauty shop - had collapsed, and the town spent almost $24,000 clearing out the debris and repairing the roof. That work was meant to stabilize the building.

"The town bought it only to protect the buildings on either side," she said.

The town council was in the process of finding a structural engineer to evaluate the building, but believed it to be stable.

That entire block - which includes an auto parts store at 128 N. Wayne St., next to the former beauty shop, and the Warren Town Hall at 132 N Wayne St., on the corner of Wayne and Second streets - was originally built as a hotel, Morrison said. Because it was built as one structure, the dividing walls between the businesses were never meant to serve as exterior walls.

Steve Osborn, a structural engineer from CESolutions in Carmel, recommended demolishing the town-owned building. The building now has a large hole in its south wall, the structure has shifted and the roof is not supported. If it is not demolished, he said, the wall would need to be shored up immediately.

While demolition of that building could begin this week, depending on the availability of a contractor, it will proceed slowly, Morrison said. The debris from the two buildings that have already been razed is supporting the exterior wall of the third building. That debris will remain in place while extensive work is done inside the former beauty shop building to shore up the wall it has in common with the auto parts store, because that wall must now serve as an exterior wall.

In addition, the council has hired the structural engineer to do an exterior evaluation of all buildings on both sides of Wayne Street, from First Street to Third Street, and a building on Second Street, for possible structural issues.

Town officials are also offering to pay for a structural evaluation of the interiors of those buildings by the same engineer. Many property owners have agreed to have their buildings evaluated on the inside, Morrison said, but several have declined the town's offer.

Complete caption: Machinery sits atop a pile of debris resulting from the demolition of the former Gene’s Market and Racketty-Packetty Shop in downtown Warren. A large hole can be seen in the structure to the north, which most recently housed a beauty shop. That building has been deemed unsafe and will also be demolished.