Officials, owner weigh options on fire-damaged building

Sunday, March 2, 2014 9:03 PM
Last updated Monday, March 3, 2014 1:45 AM
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Two months after an early morning fire gutted a Broad Street building, officials say they are still determining what to do with the brick shell it left behind.

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A Jan. 3 fire gutted the building at 1162 Broad St. The stretch of 12th Street between Broad and Ellis streets was shut down after the fire and remains closed.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
A Jan. 3 fire gutted the building at 1162 Broad St. The stretch of 12th Street between Broad and Ellis streets was shut down after the fire and remains closed.

The building, at 1162 Broad St. and owned by the Julian W. Osbon Partnership, now faces three potential fates, Code Enforcement Manager Pam Costabile said.

The first two options involve supporting the brick facades of the building with scaffolding or pole braces to save the exterior while crews demolish the interior. The third option is to level the entire structure, Costabile said.

“The pole bracing is not the most desirable option as it does not give as much stability for the walls as the scaffolding, and it would require bringing the pole bracing into the street,” she said. “The owner has stated that he has another meeting with (his insurance company) so as to make a final decision on his course of action.”

A decision could be made as soon as this week, Costabile said.

“The hardest part is getting all the insurance stuff done,” she said. “It’s taking a little longer than we had hoped, but they have been good with giving us regular updates.”

Firefighters were called to the blaze about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 3, where they discovered a male tenant trying to escape from a third-story window. The man was rescued by firefighters, who worked for most of the day to put out the flames.

In all, six apartments and Downtown Dental, which occupied the bottom floor, were damaged.

The stretch of 12th Street between Broad and Ellis streets was shut down immediately following the fire, and will remain closed until further notice, Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell said, adding that the walls of the building present hazards to passersby. The sidewalk in front of the building on Broad Street will also remain closed.

The longer the road remains shut down, Cassell said, the more it will cost the building’s owner. He estimated that the barricades currently blocking the roadway run the owner about $100 each day.

As of Friday, Augusta fire investigators had not determined the cause of the blaze, Lt. Carlton Bradley said.

Bradley filed a police report in early January citing arson as a possible cause, but later said the department wasn’t ready to consider it the definite cause. Investigators did, however, determine that the fire originated on the building’s third floor.

Contractors will have to wait for the fire investigators to finish their work before any repairs can be done, Bradley said.

Michael Osbon, the president of Julian W. Osbon Partnership, did not immediately return phone calls to The Augusta Chronicle seeking further information on the status of the building.

The Chronicle also reached out to Dr. Juanita Adkins, of Downtown Dental, for comment. She said she would provide an update on her business through a news release. But it had not been received as of Sunday evening.

Downtown Dental had occupied the first floor of the building since 2006.

Comments (4) Add comment
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Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 03/02/14 - 11:50 pm
0
4
Option Three

Just tear it down and start over.

And cite the owner for arson.

corgimom
32501
Points
corgimom 03/03/14 - 07:30 am
2
0
LL, you can't charge somebody

LL, you can't charge somebody with arson without proof that they did it.

nocnoc
42654
Points
nocnoc 03/03/14 - 07:55 am
1
0
Maybe they need to call in

a Better Arson Investigator.

Like the one up around Locust Grove Ga with 40 years exp.

justthefacts
21892
Points
justthefacts 03/03/14 - 11:58 am
0
0
Captain Obvious??

"LL, you can't charge somebody with arson without proof that they did it."

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