Council: Construction fence around bank building needed today
Published 2:14 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Andalusia residents should see a temporary construction fence go up today around the city’s tallest structure, the First National Bank building, also known as the Timmerman Building, on the Court Square.
The building was among the first abated as unsafe under a new ordinance passed last fall. The ordinance calls for the city to contact property owners about problems. If property owners do not take action or present a plan for action, buildings are posted as unsafe, and after 30 days, a public hearing is held.
Last night, the council held public hearings for seven parcels, including the First National Bank building, located at 101 S. Cotton St.
Montgomery attorney John Plummer represented the property owners, listed as Pacific Equity, LLC in Santa Monica, Calif. The city also served notice to the Historical Preservation Authority of the City of Andalusia, to FNB Building, LLC, and to the estate of William Kiepura.
Birmingham attorney Ben Goldman of Hand Arendall LLC, who specializes in abatements and helped craft the city’s new ordinance, said “They have been working with us for the past three weeks. I think they have made some commitments to do things that need to be done.”
Andy Wiggins, director of planning and development, outlined specific problems with the building.
“A few months back, one of the windows turned loose and came to the street,” he said. “It is not our intent to demolish this building. We’d like to see it fixed, and not present public safety issues.”
Wiggins said the windows on all seven floors need to be replaced to prevent further falling objects and to secure the building from weather damage.
In addition, he said, there are problems with mortar joints turning loose, and bricks falling from the parapet wall.
The council agreed to continue the public hearing on the condition of the building until March 1, giving owners time to develop a timetable for completion of repairs, as required by the ordinance. However, the council asked that a construction fence be erected today for public safety purposes.
“Sometimes it’s difficult when you have out-of-town, or out-of-state property owners,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “They’re not here, they don’t know the condition of building.
“This is an icon of a building in Andalusia and we certainly do not want to see it torn down,” Johnson said. “But if it’s left to deteriorate, at some point will be beyond reclamation. The last thing we want to do is destroy it.”
If the owners do not respond, the city will have the options of repairing the structure and placing a lien on it.