Chesterton Tribune



402 Broadway no longer unsafe under new owner

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402 Broadway has been gutted, sealed, and policed and is--officially--no longer an unsafe building.

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.

These things 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 drywall.

* 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.

* Electrical 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.

Members expressed 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 the horns.

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.







Posted 4/11/2017




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