Council hears costs to fix up or raze Brill building

STRASBURG – Strasburg leaders learned it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix up a historic but deteriorating downtown building.

Or the town could raze the buildings at a fraction of the cost.

Town Manager Ryan Spitzer updated Town Council Monday on the estimated costs of several available options concerning the fate of the former Brill grocery and adjacent taxi stand. Council didn’t reach a consensus on any option at its work session, Spitzer said Tuesday. Members are expected to continue their discussion about the options early next year.

Council learned a few weeks ago that both buildings would need extensive repairs due to their deteriorating condition. Council has been considering the reuse of either or both buildings as part of a larger effort to improve the downtown. Council asked Spitzer at its previous work session to find out the cost to demolish the taxi stand and to either fix up or raze the Brill building. Spitzer did not get information on the cost to rehabilitate the taxi stand.

“They’re still talking about what to do with the Brill building and that space,” Spitzer said.

Alpha Corporation, a Winchester-based consulting firm, provided the cost estimates for four scenarios, which Spitzer presented to council. The first scenario would call for the demolition of the Brill building and rebuilding of the structure as it appears. This option would cost an estimated $546,000.

The second option would seek to stabilize the Brill building, rehabilitate and refurbish the structure at an estimated cost of $600,000.

By comparison, the town can demolish the Brill building at a cost of approximately $39,000 and/or the taxi stand for $19,500.

The Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $168,000 to the town to create a “pop-up” business space in the Brill building and $35,000 to turn the taxi stand into a visitors’ information kiosk. The question remains: Can the town use the money awarded to demolish either or both buildings? Council directed Spitzer to seek more information from the state agency.

“So I guess one of the questions I need to get answered is can we use the $168,000 to demolish and then build something new or is that just to create some type of pop-up space,” Spitzer said.

Whether or not the town can use any of the $35,000 award to cover the demolition cost of the taxi stand also remains uncertain.

Strasburg bought the Brill building and the taxi stand from Leonard Brill in late March 2009 for $160,000, according to Shenandoah County land records. The latest reassessment performed in the county put the value of both properties at approximately $215,000. Council bought the properties with the idea that the town might use the buildings in the future, potentially for government offices. Recent work to revitalize downtown proposed reusing the Brill building and turning the vacant land behind the structure into open space for events.

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