City repairs prominent downtown Springfield site due to safety risk

7:02 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 Politics

The city of Springfield has begun work repairing a prominent downtown building after the owner allegedly hasn’t responded to its orders.

Sidewalks were closed on parts of Main and Fisher streets in May because of safety concerns about the facade of Hull Plaza after a large section fell from it.

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“When brick falls from multiple stories from the air, even though it’s just a brick, it can be very dangerous,” said Shannon Meadows, the city’s community development director.

The National Road Commons Park is just across the street, she said, so the public nuisance affects the health and safety of the right of way and adjoining properties.

“They fell both in the sidewalk right-of way and the street right-of-way, which has traffic,” Meadows said.

Hull plaza is owned by Robert Hull. He purchased the 76,000-square-foot building in 2015 for $250,000 and has been renovating it. Hull couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.

He was notified that the building was declared a public nuisance, Meadows said, and was in contact with the city about steps to repair the problems. However they haven’t been fixed in a timely fashion, she said.

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“Once fall came — and this is a very dangerous time of year for failing facade — he had not made the substantial repairs necessary,” Meadows said. “So the city had to move toward enforcement to stabilize the building.”

On Wednesday, city crews surveyed the building and found water has infiltrated the facade.

“You can have very, very cold nights, where the water will freeze and during the day the sun will get very hot,” she said. “The air may not be hot to us but the sun will get hot and it will thaw.”

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That will push out until the brick and a section of mortar collapses, causing the brick to fall.

The city will spend about $15,000 stabilizing the building. That includes fixing any loose bricks and stopping as much water infiltration as possible.

It will continue to work on Hull Plaza until the end of the week and reopen the roads once repairs are completed. The city will later recover the cost of repairs from Hull.