‘Round two’ for Cameo Building
Rockdale’s Building Standards Commission was to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 1) to take up for the second time the case of the building most seriously damaged in last summer’s collapse of a 125-year retaining wall downtown.
But this time owner Gloria Thrasher can present the conclusions of a structural engineer that the building is sound enough to be restored instead of demolished, which was the original conclusion of the committee on March 6.
Two weeks ago the city council, acting on an appeal by Thrasher, set aside the commission’s order and sent the matter back through the hearing process.
EVIDENCE—During her appeal before the council, Thrasher was unable to present the conclusions of structural engineer C. D. Claycamp of College Station.
That’s because Claycamp’s inspection of the building wasn’t done until after the March 6 hearing.
“I’ve got a written report from Mr. Claycamp concluding that the building can be repaired,” Thrasher told The Reporter. “That’s what we would like to do.”
The city has indicated it would like to have its own structural engineer inspect the building and also wants to know the effects of demolition on adjacent structures. The fates of those buildings will also have to be addressed at some point in the future.
The Cameo building is viewed as the keystone to the situation, which has remained unresolved since the brick wall collapsed Aug. 29-30, 2012.
ROOF—“The key to everything is the roof,” Thrasher said. “We’ve got to get a new roof on it. We’re okay now but there’s going to be a point where the moisture coming in is going to damage the building to the point where it can’t be repaired.”
At the last council session, some council members expressed concerns about the structure being secured and asked if the city could order the facade braced to prevent a possible collapse.
“The facade is free-standing,” Thrasher said. “It’s not about to fall. And if we’re allowed to put up a roof, that roof will be supported by poles. It won’t put any more stress on anything.”
Thrasher said the inside of the building has been cleaned up and the doors secured.
The commission’s original order March 6 gave the owner 14 days to secure the building and 60 to demolish it.
Once again, the building owner has the right to appeal the commission’s decision before the city council, which is empowered to sit as an appellate body and make a final decision.
The wall collapse damaged a total of five buildings. Two affected businesses have since re-opened and a third was in the process of moving and completed that move the same weekend.