City commissioners recently voted 7-0 to spend $26,000 for preliminary work related to razing the Keller Building. Workers from Cleveland-based firm Partners Environmental will evaluate the West Shoreline Drive building and formulate a demolition plan.
The project still has many unknowns, including:
• When the building will actually come down.
• A timeline for the demolition process.
• The cost of the demolition.
City officials have for years bickered about the building's condition. The arguments ranged from letting a private developer transform the property to letting the building sit idle, since it's considered a historical marker.
Residents' concerns about safety, however, have pushed commissioners forward.
"It's a deathtrap," said West Shoreline Drive resident Bob Gentzel, who represents a group of residents at the nearby Chesapeake Lofts.
Earlier this year, Gentzel urged commissioners to take immediate and decisive action to destroy the building. Fears about safety risks peaked in February 2012, when a brick fell from the building's chimney and plummeted several stories onto the street. No one was injured.
City officials have since blocked off that area of Shoreline Drive, which is a main corridor leading from the Paper District Marina to the downtown business district. They've set no date to lift the traffic restrictions.