A three-story brick and limestone building on First Street between Main and Market Streets has been issued an emergency demolition order. We had a chance to take a tour of the building last October and learn of the development once planned for the property. The interior of the former whisky warehouse is full of giant wooden columns and beams, but a slightly leaning masonry wall needed structural attention. With the help of an engineer, bracing was applied inside the building, but a recent shift of a few inches in the wall could be the demise for the historic structure.
The building was a whisky warehouse from the 1860s, and its austere detailing reflects its former use. We love these simple buildings for the urban character they bring to the street. A building doesn’t have to be flashy or ornately carved to be important, and this one certainly could contribute to the neighborhood as one of the few remaining examples of its era. It’s a shame so many buildings like this one meet similar fates with the wrecking ball.
There could be a glimmer of hope for this building, though. Owner Dan Borsch doesn’t want to see it go without trying to preserve it. He is looking for creative solutions for redeveloping the 9,000 square foot structure. Only a portion of the south wall is leaning, and most of the building is sound. Dan wonders, if the entire building can’t be feasibly saved, could a portion remain and be incorporated into a new building? Your ideas and interest could really help out here.
The problem lies in finding a solution quickly enough to save the building while still making redevelopment economically viable. Although the structure is slightly wider than the West Main Street row buildings whose guts were torn down for Museum Plaza, could a similar bracing structure hold the building up until a development plan could take shape? There’s a massive, 18 foot deep stone basement in the building that could make a great future space and 9,000 square feet above it. Could building a new structure inside the building’s shell allow the building to rise above its current three-floor height with setbacks? Imagine a glass penthouse on the fourth or even fifth floors.
Dan is looking for help and ideas in saving the building before it’s too late, and the clock is ticking. What are your thoughts on how to proceed with the building?
- First Street Mystery Renovation De-Mystified (Broken Sidewalk)