City engineer: GR buildings ‘structurally unsafe’

The blocked-off sidewalk in front of 35 S. Division Ave. and 41 S. Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. (April 2, 2014)
The blocked-off sidewalk in front of 35 S. Division Ave. and 41 S. Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. (April 2, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Grand Rapids’ city engineer has deemed two downtown buildings “structurally unsafe” and has ordered the sidewalk in front of the buildings to be blocked off in order to protect pedestrians.

The buildings, located next to one another at 35 S. Division Ave. and 41 S. Division Ave., sit on the southwest corner of Weston Street and S. Division Avenue, just south of Fulton Street.

Grand Rapids City Engineer Marc DeClercq said in a release Tuesday that “it appears that soil located immediately beneath the two buildings is causing significant structural problems” to the front of the buildings, and the city is concerned that falling bricks could injure pedestrians walking by.

DeClercq also said that bowing on the front of the buildings was apparent, as well as loose bricks and windows that are no longer square.

As a result, the sidewalk along S. Division Avenue from Weston Street to south of 41 S. Division Street has been shut down to pedestrian traffic, DeClercq said. While orange traffic barrels are currently in place, they will be swapped out with concrete barricades in the future.

DeClercq said that a southbound lane of S. Division will soon be blocked off at Weston Street as well.

Grand Rapids Building Code Official Mark Fleet said in the release he is working to issue a “Notice to Repair or Demolish” to the buildings’ owners, based on the condition of the buildings.

Several city departments have been working with the owners since December to come up with a solution on how to handle the deteriorating structures, the release said.

As of Wednesday, it was unclear how long the area surrounding the buildings would be blocked off.

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