ELKHART — It’s still about two months away, but Elkhart officials are beginning to lay the groundwork to demolish the old Walter Piano building.
The property at 700 W. Beardsley Ave. has been vacant for years and its condition further deteriorated a few weeks ago after a fire caused part of the building’s roof and walls to collapse.
On Tuesday, the board of public works approved plans to hire a firm that will provide oversight on the project.
Bruce Carter Associates was hired at a cost of $59,814 to devise a strategy for demolishing the building and remediating any existing contamination issues. The decision on hiring a firm for demolition has not been made yet.
Owners of the land lost interest in the property and were content to cede ownership to the city. Final steps toward gaining legal control of the property were just recently completed.
When demolition begins, crews are expected to start on the east side. Soil tests will be taken as soon as possible to determine the soil’s condition.
Typically, some of that work is done before demolition.
“It’s too dangerous to get inside to do any drillings or borings,” said Denny Correll, brownsfield manager for the city.
Correll and other city officials are expected to travel to Indianapolis today to work on securing funds for the entire project.
The city already has some federal money set aside and Correll expressed confidence they will be able to cover virtually all of the money for the project without using local property tax dollars.
Demolition of the building has been dependent on the city taking ownership of the land and new developments were not triggered by the recent fire, Correll said.
He said demolition could begin in about two months and could continue for about two months.
Officials believe the demolition will cost about $500,000.
The city hopes to sell the property as soon as possible through the redevelopment commission.
In other matters, the board heard updates on several issues:
The Grace Lawn Cemetery bank stabilization project is complete. Trees will be delivered this fall.
Construction of a water main in the Pierre Moran project is complete. The sewer separation work is expected to conclude by about mid-November.
Street lights are being replaced on South Main Street from Jackson Boulevard to Marion Street. The change is expected to provide brighter lighting. The old lights will be re-used on Division Street, which has lacked street lighting.