Downtown Salem landscape is changing with demolitions, new project

Demolition of the Tanfastic building went ahead in Salem, Ohio Friday.

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – A couple dozen people stood along East State Street in Salem and watched as a crew knocked down the old Rossetti’s Bakery building on Friday, much as they had done with the Tan-Fastic demolition earlier this week.

Salem officials originally planned to solely level the Tan-Fastic building because of deteriorating building conditions and falling materials that were causing a safety hazard to pedestrians. After further assessment, Salem officials thought it would not be possible to take the Tan-Fastic building down without severely damaging the structural integrity of the former Rossetti’s Bakery next door.

Salem Mayor John Berlin brokered a deal with the owners of the former Rossetti’s Bakery to buy it from them in order to take it down. The Rossetti’s Bakery deal closed Thursday, and deconstruction began immediately following.

The city deemed both of the buildings unsafe and that is why officials took on the $235,000 project.

Those who owned the bakery also own the building to its left. It is structurally sound, but suffered damage during the demolition process on Friday. 

The future of the site is still up in the air.

“We really don’t know. The property that the Tan-Fastic building stands on is still in litigation, so we have to wait and see what happens with that before anything can be done in that space. And it is only about 18 feet width for the Rossetti building, which is coming down now,” said Salem Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey. “They gave us a letter so that if any structural damage happened during the demolition that we would not be be held liable. They also would pay the taxes and fix the side of the building we exposed, so that it looks nice and is not an eyesore for the city.”

John Tonti is part of the Salem Art Institute, which owns the third building in that block. It used to be a branch of the Butler Institute of American Art and Tonti would like to save the building, but he is still waiting for the insurance company’s full assessment.

“We had our insurance people in yesterday. They had their structural engineers come through,” Tonti said. “I don’t know if they may actually want to come back and look again as this building now comes down. It may have some impact, but I am not sure.”

Officials said that part of East State Street could re-open as early as next week after the area is cleared of demolition debris.

And while crews knocked down those buildings, another downtown Salem building is being restored. The Courtyard Square is right down the way on East State Street.

The historical building houses several shops, restaurants and other businesses. Salem Native Scott Cahill and his wife, Lisa, bought it a couple of years ago.

They have spent much of the time renovating the inside and bringing in new tenants. The Cahills are behind the Save Downtown Salem Project.

“Salem has great potential. It has beautiful architecture, magnificent history. And Salem is in an absolute renaissance. I think I picked the best time to invest in downtown Salem,” Cahill said.

They are finishing work now on a fine-dining restaurant and a sports bar, which are expected to open by late May.

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