DANVILLE— Until a netting-type system to catch falling debris from Collins/Bresee Tower is erected, a structural engineer recommends the two westbound Main Street lanes remain closed to vehicles and the north sidewalk remain closed to pedestrians.
“It is considered a dangerous structure by the structural engineer,” Danville Public Works Director Carl Carpenter told the Danville City Council Tuesday night.
According to a report from John Zeman, a licensed structural engineer with the Farnsworth Group of Champaign, “it is my understanding that during a storm event on the afternoon of June 30, 2019, pieces of the terracotta façade on the south side of Collins Tower fell to the street. Of the pieces which fell, most of them appeared to come from a cornice/ledge located above the second floor windows. The largest pieces – whole blocks, each weighing approximately 100 pounds – were caught by temporary scaffolding and a canopy structure.
“Many pieces as large as a softball fell to the sidewalk. Some pieces the size of small rocks – approximately two to three inches in diameter – ended up in the two westbound driving lanes of Main Street/U.S. Route 136 and diverted traffic to the remaining three lanes.
“On the afternoon of July 1, 2019, I conducted a visual inspection of the terracotta façade with the aid of a bucket truck with a 70-foot-long boom, provided by the city. I primarily viewed the south side of the building, but also the south ends of the west and east sides. At the locations where pieces of the façade separated from the building, I could see evidence of mortar failure, corrosion of metal anchors and fracturing of terracotta blocks. At multiple locations throughout the rest of the façade which was accessible to me, I observed small cracks that indicated failure of the terracotta glaze (known as ‘crazing’), cracks through the terracotta and spalling of the terracotta. Many locations on the façade have metal straps and plywood sheets intended to secure pieces of the terracotta which are deteriorating.
“It is our opinion that much of the remaining terracotta façade is at risk of separating from the building and falling to the ground, thereby posing an imminent hazard to pedestrians and motorists near the south and east sides of Collins Tower.”
In addition to recommending part of Main Street and the sidewalk remain closed, Zeman also said the parking lot adjacent to Collins Tower located in the northwest corner of Main and Vermilion streets should be closed to pedestrians and vehicles. The firm said to prevent pedestrians from entering this “hazard zone,” it recommends installing temporary fencing along the perimeter.
“Following your request, we will proceed by investigating regulations and standards for systems for protection from falling objects and provide the city with recommendations.”
Carpenter said the public works department was notified that part of the building at 4 N. Vermilion St. collapsed Sunday afternoon by the 911 communications center.
The city closed the two lanes of traffic south of the tower as falling debris made it onto both westbound lanes.
According to Carpenter, owners Chris and Jeri Collins had a firm from Indiana secure that area on Monday afternoon.
Carpenter and Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said they are asking the Collinses for immediate plans and action to secure the entire building.
Williams said before the weekend’s falling debris the Collinses were to have until the end of July to address the netting and get the cornice removed. Now that timeline is expedited, Williams said.
Carpenter said the greatest danger is the east side cornice, and they’ve fenced off the area so no one can get in that area.
Farnsworth has recommended an engineered system for protection from falling objects.
Also Tuesday night, Williams said the Collinses were paying monthly for the building, and that it wasn’t given to them.
Jeri Collins wouldn’t comment on the building.
It was June 2018 when the Collinses reportedly took over ownership of the building from Scottie Porter and Historic Restorations, Inc., and Land Company of Danville. Historic Restorations, Inc. is a non-profit organization of Fayette, Ala.
In October 2017, the company was given the building from Forcht Group of Kentucky, which formerly was named First Corbin Financial Corp. Bresee was placed under ownership of the Forcht subsidiary, Land Company of Danville.
The city filed a lawsuit against Land Company of Danville when city officials heard it transferred the building and would no longer be willing to work with the city to solve the imminent danger of failing debris from the building’s exterior. In the lawsuit, the city asked for the building to be demolished within 30 days or restored within 60 days or the building be turned over to the city.
In other business at Tuesday’s city council meeting, aldermen tabled to Aug. 6 an ordinance amending Chapter 96 of city code pertaining to intoxicating liquor due to bar owners’ concerns about the wording change possibly causing bars that earn more money off video gaming machines than food and beer to close down.
Williams said that’s not the city’s intention. The intention is to not permit video gaming cafes. The added language was to state “the revenue the license holder may generate from video gaming shall not exceed 49 percent of the license holder’s total gross revenue.”
Ward 2 Alderman Dan Duncheon also asked when the city council will have a new Ward 1 alderman to fill Williams’ seat that has remained vacant since Williams became mayor.
Williams said it should occur soon, and definitely this summer.
The city council also approved agreements with Azavar Government Solutions and the Illinois Housing Development Authority and went into closed session to discuss pending litigation.
It removed a resolution for action on a minor replat for Flex-N-Gate Plastics for Lynch Creek Addition lots 2-5 for additional information and time to review.