Town likely to tear down Brill Grocery, taxi stand

STRASBURG – Town leaders appear ready to tear down the old Brill’s Grocery building and a former taxi stand downtown.

Surveys done on both properties in the 200 block of East King Street show each structure would need extensive repairs, Town Council learned Tuesday. Town Manager Ryan Spitzer presented the findings of the surveys to council at a work session attended by almost a dozen interested residents.

Most council members and some residents agreed that the town should demolish the buildings rather than spend the money to repair the structures. While some members of the audience and council voiced concern for the potential loss of historic buildings downtown, they also said demolition would offer opportunities to replace the structures with new amenities.

Under the rules of the grants, the town has until mid-January to decide on whether or not to demolish the buildings and to plan how it would use the resulting space, Spitzer explained. Spitzer said the town would not need to build a structure in the space.

Strasburg bought the historic properties years ago with the idea that the town could reuse the structures. Recent talks revolved around renovating the Brill building into a facility that could house a business and serve as an entrance to future open space to the rear. The town is in the process of planning to use grant money to enhance the open space and to redevelop the two buildings.

Mayor Tim Taylor said the steering committee looking at the use of the grant also has recommended the town demolish both buildings.

Razing the buildings would not jeopardize the town’s ability to receive federal grants in the future, Spitzer said.

Council members and people in the audience voiced support for trying to save the facades of one or both of the buildings.

Councilman Robert R. “Bob” Baker noted that the town could set a precedent if it tears down the historic structures rather than rehabilitate them. The town’s Unified Development Ordinance sets forth requirements of property owners. However, as Baker noted, the ordinance exempts the town from its own regulations.

The town would still need to go through the process of obtaining permits to demolish the structures.

Councilman Donald Le Vine posed that demolishing the structures could lead private property owners to let their buildings fall into disrepair. The town also needs to make sure whatever buildings it has constructed to replace the two is compatible with downtown, Le Vine said.

Both properties contain asbestos and mold that must be removed before any work on the structures can be performed, Spitzer noted. The consultant did not provide a cost estimate to either remove the mold and asbestos or to perform any of the work on the properties’ structural integrity. The consultant was not asked to provide that information, Spitzer said.

Even without a cost estimate, Taylor and others agreed the price could add up.

Problems and recommended actions for the Brill building:
• Replace all exterior walls because of brittle, soft brick
• Large crack in the back caused by foundation failure; stabilize and raise foundation
• Second floor provides stability so, if removed, additional large beam needed
• Sidewalk replaced to drain water away from building

Problems and recommended actions for the taxi stand:
• Replace damaged siding, repaint exterior
• Replace foundation and raise building
• Demolish and replace exterior stairs
• Add tie-downs at each corner
• Replace flooring and install new joists

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com