Owner to make repairs on crumbling Middletown building

The owner of the former Reed-Klopp building in downtown Middletown told a city official that he was willing to make the necessary repairs to keep debris from falling down to the sidewalk below.

Kyle Fuchs, the city’s community revitalization director, told the Journal-News that based on the structural engineer’s evaluation, building repairs will be costly for the owner of the structure at Verity Parkway and Central Avenue.

“I’m estimating the cost to totally repair the building is between $150,000 and $250,000,” he said.”It’s not going to be a free handout from the city.”

Fuchs said the city has already spent $8,700 to have a contractor erect emergency wood fencing around the building and has yet to receive the invoice for the structural engineer’s evaluation.

He said that a local structural engineer contracted by the city has forwarded his report after evaluating the building following an extensive visit to the five-story building that included all floors and the roof.

In an Aug. 25 report prepared by Jonathan B. Morgan, president of B.D. Morgan & Co., Inc., he said that the masonry and the flashing has deteriorated to the point of falling down to the street below and that he observed numerous issues of safety and structural stability of the building.

Morgan said the immediate issues that need to be completed before occupancy includes the falling masonry, flashing and cornice work to protect public safety.

“Above and beyond the issue of repairing the most essential deterioration that is causing the present safety concerns of falling debris, it is my professional opinion that this building needs a tremendous amount of additional work both inside and out to bring it up to code and condition that would safely allow for any occupancy, use or purpose,” Morgan said in his report.

“These additional issues include consideration for the deteriorated roof, rotted floor structural and planking on each floor, elevator/accessibility, rotten windows, electrical system, fire suppression system, plumbing system, and HVAC system to name a few,” Morgan said in the report.

Fuchs told the Journal-News that the owner of the building is working with an architect and is gathering plans to submit to the city within the next few weeks.

“At that point the owner will come in and sign an agreement with us to fix it within a determined time-frame,” Fuchs said. “We want to have all the issues addressed before winter hits.”

The city’s chief building official posted a notice on Aug. 13 that the building was unsafe for occupancy and there was an imminent danger of falling bricks and other debris. The notice also ordered the building’s owner, Daniyal LLC, to do the work necessary to make the structure temporarily safe and to get the building back into compliance with the city’s building codes.

The city also erected a sturdy barrier out of pressure treated plywood to contain any objects from falling in the street.

Daniyal LLC purchased the land and building for $40,000 in 2013, according to online records from the Butler County Auditor’s Office.

The five-story brick building, which also has a basement, was built in 1917 and opened in 1919 as the Reed-Klopp Furniture Store.

In 2009, an early morning fire destroyed the building that at the time housed a Jackson Hewitt tax preparation office, causing an estimated $250,000 in damages.

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