By Brandi Makuski
Ellis Street between Strongs Ave. and Clark St. will be closed to all through traffic beginning Monday, June 6.
The closure became necessary so construction crews had room to safely remove exterior brick on the east side of the McDonald Title building, 1059 Clark Street. The exterior wall had become a danger to the public, according to city officials, and the sidewalk in that area has already been closed for the past month.
“They have to basically remove all the brick off the entire east side of the building,” said Scott Schatschneider, director of public works for the city. “That building is over 100 years old; it’s got to be one of the oldest buildings in the city.”
Kyle Kearns, the city’s economic development specialist, said under normal circumstances, the building owner would need to first obtain a permit from the Historic Preservation/Design Review Commission (HP/DRC) before making changes to its exterior, as it is located within the Downtown Historic District.
“But in certain situations that permit can be waived, and in this case it was warranted because it was an immediate safety concern,” Kearns said on Monday, who added the building was constructed in 1890. “We’d have concerns about bricks flying around, so it wouldn’t be safe to keep that road open.”
Andy Filtz, owner of AJ’s Quality Construction, was tasked with removing the exterior brick. His son, Colin, a incoming senior at SPASH, spent his Monday in a bucket lift helping pry the brick away from the interior layer of wood — which Andy Filtz called “solid, three-quarter-inch wood right there,” original to the building and in good shape.
Filtz said they planned to install some air filtration and a water barrier in place of the brick until reconstruction plans are approved by the HP/DRC, a step that can’t be waived, according to Kearns.
The next HP/DRC meeting has yet to be scheduled. Weather permitting, the road will reopen on Friday.
The road closure notice was released by the city just before noon on Monday. It was not immediately clear why the notice was not released further in advance of the Monday morning commute.
Check back for updates.