The future of the city's crumbling past

SANDUSKY Some of Sandusky's oldest structures may be on the verge of a slow collapse, literally bric
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Some of Sandusky's oldest structures may be on the verge of a slow collapse, literally brick by brick.

Will Sandusky's crumbling buildings ever be restored or will new development spring from the rubble?

A few of these historic sites, namely the Apex, Keller and Rieger buildings, were brought up at the most recent Sandusky City Commission meeting.

"As much as I love old buildings, it's time for Sandusky to start doing something," Dan Kaman, ex officio mayor, said.

Bricks broke loose from the top of the Rieger building, formerly the Sanduskian hotel, at Market and Jackson streets earlier this month.

"I feel that the city has waited long enough and I really doubt that Greg Spatz will get this project off the ground," said City Commissioner Dave Waddington.

"We need that agreement to come to an end somehow," Kaman said.

Spatz is the president of U.S. Construction, developers contracted through the city to redevelop the property into apartments nearly two years ago.

Many factors can threaten the structural integrity of buildings so old.

Weathering has certainly been a factor for the Apex building, currently owned by Famous Supply Co., Akron.

As water freezes and thaws on the outside of the buildings, it can cause cracks and separations between the bricks, said a Famous Supply Co. employee earlier this month as bricks tumbled from the top of the Apex building.

Centuries worth of wind blowing in off the Sandusky Bay can also damage the buildings.

"The Apex building is a blight and I would like to start the proceedings to declare it as such," said City Commissioner Dennis Murray. "The problem is, if it's not than there's nothing we can do."

Murray said that the city's ability to use eminent domain has been rightly curtailed. It's a very long and expensive process, for which the city has no money, Murray said.

Kaman said that Famous Supply indicated it will clean up the building and get it up to code. He hopes that will be the case.

"Ideally, with the Keller and Rieger, I'd love to see them restored. I think it's still realistic for the Rieger. For the Keller building I'm not sure that will be a realistic idea."

There have been issues in the past over the increasing instability of the Keller building in the Paper District along the downtown waterfront. The city has been working with other agencies in efforts to save and secure the building for future development, but the odds of securing the building decrease with every passing day.

"There are few other buildings that really scare me," said City Commissioner Craig Stahl.

"The Keller Building is a safety concern," Kaman said.

While the question arose at last Monday's city commission meeting of whether the city could enforce eminent domain on any of the properties, that would certainly be a last resort.

City Law Director Don Icsman said that the city has never enforced eminent domain other than for road projects.

It's not something the city plans to do in the near future.

"Hopefully that will never have to happen," Icsman said. "That's not to say that the commission couldn't."