Owner, city work to remove safety threat at downtown Springfield site

The sidewalk along Fisher Street is still closed due to the deteriorating facade on the Hull Plaza building June 27, 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

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The sidewalk along Fisher Street is still closed due to the deteriorating facade on the Hull Plaza building June 27, 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

The owner of a prominent downtown Springfield property is working with city leaders to make sure no more bricks fall off the building.

The city had to close down parts of a sidewalk in May because of safety concerns about the facade of Hull Plaza, city leaders said at the time. Building inspectors visited the building previously known as the PNC Bank building at 4 W. Main St. after a large section of facade fell off.

EARLIER COVERAGE: Sidewalks closed, bricks fall off downtown Springfield building

The sidewalk on the corner of Fisher and Main streets has remained closed and blocked off ever since.

“We are in the process of getting it taken care of,” owner Robert Hull said. “They want us to submit drawings to the engineer so he can approve it.”

Springfield Chief Building Official Jene Gaver said the city is working with Hull to make sure everyone is safe around the building.

“He’s contacted us and that shows he’s putting an effort forward so I am pretty optimistic that he’ll get this taken care of,” Gaver said.

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Gaver went up in the bucket truck in May to determine what was wrong with the structure.

“We’ve got several areas where the brick is deteriorating, pushing out and cracked,” he said. “They are gong to have to take some of that brick down and re-lay it, I assume. It depends on what the engineering report says.”

The damage is likely caused by the changing of the seasons over time, Gaver said, which causes repeated freezing and thawing. The property owner will likely need to pull some bricks out and re-lay it to make repairs, he said.

Once the engineering report is filed with the city, Gaver said his office will either approve the work or work with Hull to create a better plan. It’s important to his office that the Hull building is fixed properly, Gaver said, because it presents a threat to residents.

“If someone walks there and a piece falls off and actually hits them from that height, it would probably hurt them pretty bad,” he said.

Hull purchased the 76,000-square-foot building in 2015 for $250,000 and has been renovating it in honor of uncle. Hull is based in Kentucky, but his uncle lived in Springfield. The building came with a lot of problems, Hull said, and it has needed extensive repairs.

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“We brought the building in this condition,” Hull said. “We have done full floor renovations from carpet to the elevators and everything else. It was a mess.”

He described the inside of the building as needing a lot of work and said the work continues. Office space is the primary use of the property.

Hull said at the time he hadn’t been notified by the city of the issue. However, documents show the city of Springfield first issued orders to repair the building’s facade in April 2016. Regardless, Hull said he is committed to making sure the building is as safe as possible.

“This recent stuff with the bricks falling, that is kind of a fluke situation,” he said. “Other than that, it’s been a good building. We want to get it done as fast as possible.”

$250,000: Purchase price for the building in 2015

72,000: Square footage in the building

2: Approximate months the sidewalk has been closed

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun first broke the news on May 17 about safety concerns at Hull Plaza in downtown Springfield and will continue to track efforts to repair the prominent building.

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