News

Whameo! Cameo coming down

Pink facade will be razed, ending 19-month ‘saga’
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Above, all that’s left, inside view looking to back of US 79 facade. Below right, just a cameo of ‘The Cameo’ as its era nears the end. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Above, all that’s left, inside view looking to back of US 79 facade. Below right, just a cameo of ‘The Cameo’ as its era nears the end. Reporter/Mike Brown The Cameo Building finally ran out of lives.

Gloria Thrasher, owner of the downtown landmark at 113 East Cameron (US 79), took out a demolition permit at City Hall last week, ending a 19-month saga with more stops and starts than 5 p.m. Austin traffic.

“Demolition will begin as soon as the weather allows us to proceed,” Thrasher said.

If it’s final—and “if” is always a big word where the bright pink downtown structure is concerned— the long Cameo saga is over (see chronology, page 6A).

FACADE—Thrasher told The Reporter she decided to demolish the Cameo after realizing its ornate front facade, which still stands, was probably doomed under any remaining scenario.

“The city would not let us keep the old front,” she said. “We proposed to replace the back standing walls, restore the front facade, put on a roof and repair the east and west interior walls with bricks and some sort of sealant.”

“They would not accept this proposal,” she said.

Thrasher said the city was requiring a “full set of architect plans complete with handicap restrooms, and HVAC (air conditioning and heating), as we would be constructing a completely new building.”

She said, even in that event, the city suggested the front facade be taken down and replaced.

“Then there would be another ‘time line’ to complete the project,” she said. “I cannot deal with any more time lines being met, so I can be given more fines,” Thrasher said.


Within hours of the first collapse, Aug. 29, 2012, this was the view inside what was Cameo Insurance Building. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Within hours of the first collapse, Aug. 29, 2012, this was the view inside what was Cameo Insurance Building. Reporter/Mike Brown The owner has paid $4,900 in $100-per-day fines and has been assessed $9,100 more.

PLANS NEEDED—The city’s position remains that it was never presented any code-compliant plans for restoring the Cameo building, according to City Manager Kelvin Knauf.

“What we really need are building plans drawn up by an architect or engineer (and suitable for construction) showing us what they want to do with the building (structurally and how they intend on using the building) and then see if the plans meet the building codes,” he said.

Knauf said any inhabitable building would need to have ADA compatible restrooms, HVAC and other required elements.

“If the architect/engineer believes the facade could be saved and stamps the construction plans for saving the façade, we would go with that,” he said.

Knauf said the contractor indicated to Code Inspector Lon Williams that the owner was not willing to pay for even to demolish the overhang, repair the walls and stucco the walls (without building a complete building).

“If she were to come up with those plans, which would not be a complete building, we would take that to the council and see if it is acceptable,” he said.

NEXT STEP—Thrasher said her main goal was to get the area repaired and covered with a roof, adding, “but I cannot seem to make this happen with all the city requirements.”

The city approved the demolition permit.

“The walls are partial walls on both sides, but I will be paying for the repairs,” she said.

“There will be exterior weather proof walls on the east and west sides and the top bricks will be made the same height all the way around. They will also be sealed and covered, so no bricks will be visible,” Thrasher said.

She said when the repairs are made to these walls, the adjoining property owners can then proceed with making their own roof repairs.

“Sad to say, we really wanted to preserve the old downtown storefront, but I guess the city fathers would rather see a blank space instead,” she said.


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