SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – After two downtown Salem buildings had to be demolished earlier this month, Salem Mayor John Berlin is hoping two more neighboring structures can still be salvaged.
This week, the city’s fire chief condemned both the old Butler Art Museum and Cheshire Booksellers on East State Street because of damage the buildings sustained when the former Tan-Fastic and Rosetti’s Bakery were torn down. The Tan-Fastic building had started to crumble, and once demolition on it began, the bakery building sustained some structural damage as well.
The city paid $210,000 to tear down the old Tan-Fastic building and the Rossetti Bakery next door and haul away the debris. Berlin said the tanning shop had been deteriorating for years with bricks and other objects falling onto the old Butler Art Museum and forcing it to close.
When Tan-Fastic’s roof finally collapsed, plans to demolish the buildings this summer had to be changed.
“In this case, the collapse of the Tan-Fastic building set in motion a course of events that perhaps have ceased at this point,” Berlin said. “We would have preferred to do it under perhaps a little bit more of a controlled basis. The prescribed way to tear down a building is not when a roof has collapsed.”
A huge piece of Tan-Fastic’s wall fell onto the museum and the bookstore is now so unstable, it is sinking.
It is not what Melissa Corfee expected when she opened her Recycled Treasures antique shop a few doors down a couple months ago.
“I was kind of hoping that it will turn out and now we are worried about the other buildings coming down,” Corfee said.
Corfee and other downtown business owners said they lost business this month when State Street was closed by the demolition, and there were concerns of asbestos being released as the buildings came down. They are now worried what will happen if the museum and bookstore can’t be salvaged.
“As each building comes down, if they do come down, we will have the same questions about the safety of the buildings, the air quality, are we safe to be here? Are our clients?,” Natural Solutions Salon owner Jennifer Reed said.
Berlin said the fire chief condemned the museum and bookstore buildings, meaning no one can occupy them until they are repaired and deemed safe, or torn down. He said he is working with the current owners and trying to find would-be investors who are willing to come up with repair plans.
“So if someone is interested in it and they want to put some sweat equity in it, there is a hole in the roof, if they can fix it, put a roof on it, do some remodeling on the inside, they have a nice downtown location,” Berlin said.
He said he already has had several calls from people interested in the buildings.
If owners can’t come up with plans within the next month, the museum and the bookstore may have to come down as well.