The healing process for Denison after the fire that devastated the 300 block of West Main Street continues. In the latest recovery step, the city has decided to proceed with the complete demolition of three buildings that were at the center of the fire.
The City Council has authorized a $113,000 contract with Intercon Demolition to begin preparations for the clearing the path for reconstruction. The contract will cover 317, 319 and 321 West Main.
Denison City Manager Judson Rex said that demolition would begin at 321 due to the nature of the buildings leaning on each other. If one falls, it could potentially knock over the others in a way that officials would not consider safe.
Rex said the engineer recommended this course of action, and all three buildings will come down.
At this time Rex said that includes the facade that the city had previously hoped to save. It was recently determine that course of action would not being economical and the building would not be structurally sound.
Councilmen JC Doty asked if the utilities would be affected in the back, and Rex said the city didn’t have answers to that yet. Officials are still working with Oncor to gather that information.
The city needs to continue to research into what clean up the insurance companies involved would fund, officials said. Rex also said the city needs to take charge in order to ensure all the pieces moved forward in the #DenisonForward project.
“We’re still in the process of cleaning up and redeveloping those properties,” Rex said. “In working with property owners and insurance companies — due to the nature of the damage — we’re proposing the city take the lead in cleaning up the damaged properties. We can reopen the streets and sidewalks and alleys to put us in a good position to rebuild on these properties.”
The time frame is still in flux because there are a lot of individuals with a stake in the affected area. Rex said the city met with representatives from Intercon Monday morning to hash out the plans moving forward, and the goal is to get things progressing within the next 30 days.
Rex reminded the council of the state of emergency declaration Mayor Janet Gott had issued on Oct. 10. The declaration allows for the release of public funds towards the recovery effort that the council extended that following Monday.
“We could take months or longer if we rely on individual property owners to coordinate,” Rex said. “You can’t demolish one structure by itself. They rely on each other to stand up. For instance, the building at 321 (West Main) that was heavily damaged, that property owner couldn’t go in and demolish without impacting buildings on both sides. A single, coordinated contractor needs to go in, and the best method for that is for the city to take the lead and help with the clean up. If our end goal is to see the impacted properties put back into productive use, the best incentive the city can provide is to clean them up and get the property ready to redevelop.
Rex said that the city had already restored utilities to all buildings that were functionally sound, and as of Monday the investigation into the cause of the fire had yet to be concluded.
The city hopes to have the clean up completed by the early part of January 2020.
What do you want to see replace the three buildings that were destroyed by the Oct. 9 fire? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending email to email@example.com. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.