Fire-damaged building on Broad Street to be torn down

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The fate of a historic Broad Street building heavily damaged by a January fire will involve a wrecking ball.

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The Augusta Historic Preservation Commission approved a petition Thursday from Michael Osbon to demolish the facade of a three-story structure at 1162 Broad St. after an early morning blaze on Jan. 3 left the building with substantial fire and water damage.

Osbon, president of Julian W. Osbon Partnership, which owns the building, told the panel that he is still in the “discovery” phase of figuring out his next step for the property that houses the 15,000-square-foot building on the corner of Broad and 12th streets. He said that saving the brick shell of the structure does not appear to be financially feasible.

Osbon said preliminary estimates show that demolition could cost $130,000, while scaffolding or erecting pole bracing on the building to save the facade would be much more expensive. The property and building, erected in 1903, was valued at nearly $700,000 before the fire, according to city records.

Osbon said he hit a roadblock in restoration efforts after finding out that he’d be unable to qualify for tax credits if funds from an insurance company were used.

“Our preliminary effort was to go straight toward preservation,” he said. “We just continued to find issues that have made that more difficult.”

Shortly after the fire, Osbon said an insurance claims adjuster deemed the building’s interior a total structural loss.

Though he plans to rebuild once the 15,000-square-foot building is torn down, Osbon said he is awaiting further information from his insurance company before he knows what or when he’ll develop there.

“I still have a lot of financial questions,” he said.

While fire damage was confined to the third floor, the first and second floors were destroyed by water.

Augusta fire investigators have determined the blaze started on the third floor and cited arson as a possible cause, but have not released final results of the investigation.

The building includes six apartments on the second and third floors. Downtown Dental had occupied the first floor since 2006. Dr. Juanita Adkins, of Downtown Dental, did not attend the hearing and couldn’t be reached about the future of her practice.

Osbon said he also needs to move forward with the project so that the portion of 12th Street between Broad and Ellis streets that’s been blocked by barricades since the fire can reopen. The city has informed him that he owes $6,000 – $112 for each day the street has been closed – to cover costs of the barricades, he said

While the five commissioners present granted the approval for demolition, they required that Osbon return in 90 days to inform them of his post-demolition plans.

Commission member Dave Barbee said demolition was the only option, as the restoration project would likely prove cost prohibitive.

The structure, now named the Brislan Building, housed several furniture stores from the early 1900s through the early 1980s, according to Augusta Chronicle archives.

HISTORY OF 1162 BROAD ST.

1904: Rhodes-Austin Fur Co. listed as one of the first to occupy the building.

1918: Eubanks Bros. Furniture moves in after several changes in ownership.

1930: Graves-Head Furniture Co. takes over.

1933: Augusta Trading Co. moves into building.

1940: Fire begins in a paint room on the third floor, bringing hundreds of spectators to watch firefighters battle the blaze. The fire caused about $8,000 in damages to Augusta Trading Co.’s inventory and fixtures. The company held a “big red fire sale” later that year.

1941: Fielden-Willson Furniture Co. opens store.

1954: Roberts Furniture Co. locates in space.

1965: Denny Furniture Co. opens second location.

1983: Marbury Gallery antique shop opens

1984: Ye Olde Shoppe antique store moves into space.

2006: Downtown Dental opens office.

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives

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Riverman1
90823
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Riverman1 03/28/14 - 06:00 am
4
0
Rhodes-Austin Fur Co

"1904: Rhodes-Austin Fur Co"

Come on, y'all made that up. Heh.

Riverman1
90823
Points
Riverman1 03/28/14 - 06:03 am
2
0
6 K Ain't So Bad For Osbon

"The city has informed him that he owes $6,000 – $112 for each day the street has been closed – to cover costs of the barricades," he said.

That ain't so bad if he was willing to pay $30,000 for other government things.

corgimom
36848
Points
corgimom 03/28/14 - 06:21 am
2
0
Gee, he sure does seem to

Gee, he sure does seem to have a lot of problems lately, doesn't he?

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 11:51 am
0
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Michael Osbon
Unpublished

Isn't this the same guy who was arrested recently for drunk driving, speeding his mercedes along I20 at 100 mph and then tried to bribe the arresting officer with cashiers checks and unmarked bills? Seems like this guy is in a world of hurt as of late.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 03/28/14 - 12:00 pm
0
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well considering
Unpublished

he had $30k to attempt to bribe an arresting officer with, he should have no trouble coming up with the $6k to cover the cost of the barricades

Little Lamb
48027
Points
Little Lamb 03/28/14 - 02:22 pm
0
0
Alibi

I wonder what Mr. Osbon's (and his "partners") alibi was for the night the building caught fire?

Butterman
3696
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Butterman 03/28/14 - 02:53 pm
0
1
Exemption
Unpublished

Try getting this kind of waiver if you are just a regular non-connected property owner in the Summerville or Olde Town Historic districts.. you'd be forced to keep the original facades and anything that had not been turned into pure ash. Osbon, however gets to tear an historic building shell down.

corgimom
36848
Points
corgimom 03/28/14 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Did anybody see the story of

Did anybody see the story of his arrest in the AC?

Butterman
3696
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Butterman 03/28/14 - 05:08 pm
0
0
Corgi
Unpublished

I think it was in the paper. Or maybe it was The Jail Report

studmuffin1533
305
Points
studmuffin1533 03/28/14 - 08:51 pm
0
0
Conspiracy?

Think the razed property will eventually be the site of yet another MCG building?

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 03/29/14 - 09:36 am
0
0
muffin
Unpublished

I would say that is a very likely possibility

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