402 Broadway has
been gutted, sealed, and policed and is--officially--no longer an unsafe
At a special
meeting Monday night, the Chesterton Town Council voted unanimously to
dismiss the case brought against its current owner, George Manning, after
its owner-to-be, Richard Riley, documented the enormous effort he’s made
over the last four weeks to bring the building into compliance with the
council’s March 13 order.
That order gave
Riley 30 days to vacate the building--a technicality, as it’s been vacant
for many months--to seal all entry points, and to remove all trash, debris,
and fire-hazardous material from the premises and the property.
Riley--the owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St.--has done, as
Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the council he personally confirmed during a
walk-through on Friday.
In January, on
O’Dell’s recommendation, the council voted to declare 402 Broadway--the
town’s old post office and under Manning’s ownership an antique
mall--“unsafe,” after O’Dell found the structure to be severely water
damaged, its roof compromised, and the interior badly mold infested.
At a hearing on the
building on March 13, however, Riley announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy
Court has approved his purchase both of 402 Broadway and 101 Broadway, the
latter also owned by Manning.
Riley had been
hopeful of closing on 402 and 101 by Monday’s meeting, but as Manning’s
attorney, Drew Rhed, noted on Monday, there’s been a “little hiccup” in his
dealings with the IRS. Nothing, however, which should delay closing much
beyond the next two or three weeks.
In a PowerPoint
presentation, Riley showed before-and-after photos of 402 Broadway, and the
difference a month has made is just this side of astonishing:
* Broken windows on
the front have been replaced and the lettering on the windows removed.
* Old signage has
been likewise removed.
* Four to five
dumpsters of trash of all kinds have been hauled off the property.
* The interior has
been altogether gutted, including ceiling tiles, carpeting, flooring, and
* The mold has been
removed, with Riley remarking that crews spent the first 10 days inside the
building wearing face masks.
* The planter boxes
out front have been removed.
service has been turned on and tested.
* Fans have been
running continually to get the air circulating inside and to thoroughly dry
out the interior.
“If the issue is
safety, I would submit to you that--the leaking roof notwithstanding--the
building is safe,” Riley said. “And it looks a lot better than it did.”
Next on the work
schedule: the roof needs to be repaired and to that end Riley has arranged
for a structural engineer to take a walk-through of the building this week.
In addition, he said, the heating ducts need to be cleaned and sanitized and
a clogged stormwater drain in the parking lot needs to cleared.
their appreciation to Riley not only for bringing 402 Broadway into
compliance with their March 13 order but also for taking the 402/101 bull by
At the council’s
March 13 hearing, Riley indicated that his plans for both 402 and 101 are
still fluid but ultimately he intends to lease both.