Originally created 10/09/01

Need for fire repair remains



The empty buildings adjacent to the burnt-out hulk of The Bayou on Broad Street boast new paint and carpet, but could remain empty for some time.

The Augusta-Richmond County Department of License and Inspection has two engineering reports recommending structural repairs to 908-A and 908-B Broad St. The department will not issue a business license for those storefronts until the repairs are made, department Director Rob Sherman said.

George Nelson, a consulting engineer in North Augusta, concluded that the "framing was burned to the point where it needs to be repaired or replaced - probably replaced."

The damage occurred during a June 27 fire that consumed The Bayou bar and eatery.

A permit was issued in August for cosmetic repairs to the building. Those included new paint and carpet, but no structural repairs.

"There is more damage there than (the owner) has corrected," Mr. Sherman said. "There's still some issues that need to be addressed. They'll need to get a contractor to make repairs; then we would inspect it to make sure it's up to code."

Building owner Bonnie Ruben, who also owns Ruben's Department Store and the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Broad Street, did not return phone calls left at her office since Wednesday.

Dunlap Studio and Gallery, formerly at 908-A Broad St., relocated to the middle of Artist's Row in the 1000 block of Broad Street. Georgia Internet Link, formerly at 908-B Broad St., has moved to Tobacco Road.

Time still remains on the space they leased in Mrs. Ruben's damaged building, but neither business plans on moving back.

"The renovations were not completed to our satisfaction," said Susan Dunlap, the gallery's manager. "We've been here for a month and we've had good sales, and we're staying."

Reach John Bankston at (706)823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.