Judge Wall: Tavern Building ‘not in imminent risk of collapse’


TROY — Members of the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance (THPA) have issued a new statement regarding the Tavern Building on West Main Street, responding to a Thursday, March 30, ruling by Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy M. Wall on the building’s current condition.

“The LLC that owns 112-118 W. Main St. and/or the Kimmel family appear to have received more than $370,000 in insurance proceeds as a result of damage to the building caused by a January 2020 tornado,” the THPA statement said. “They have spent virtually nothing to repair the building in more than three years while purposefully neglecting it, leaving it unsecured to the elements, and forcing the closure of a public sidewalk and multiple public parking spaces.”

“Mr. Kimmel, the LLC’s statutory agent, continues to flaunt the city’s property maintenance code and make a mockery of Miami County’s process for assessing building stability and safety,” the statement said.

After a public hearing held on Wednesday, March 29, Wall ruled the Tavern Building “is not in imminent risk of collapse,” and ordered the property owner to “shore up the busted header and sagging bricks on the south wall” no later than Friday, March 31.

Wall also ordered debris piles created by recent demolition work to be placed on-site in roll-off trash containers, and that structural engineers hired by the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance should be allowed access to inspect the Tavern Building. Wall’s ruling also ordered that structural engineers for either side should be allowed to inspect neighboring buildings on both sides of the Tavern Building.

A separate hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 4, to consider an injunction filed against Kimmel by the city of Troy.

“We will be monitoring compliance with Judge Wall’s orders, which we believe are in the best interest of the community at this time,” Troy Mayor Robin Oda said in a press release issued on Thursday, March 30. “We will also be completing our own structural engineering analysis in anticipation of the Tuesday, April 4, court hearing on the city’s injunction against the property owner.”

According to the THPA statement, Kimmel first received more than $212,000 in insurance payments in 2020 ($188,443 after deducting fees) to compensate him for damages to the building caused by a January 2020 tornado.

“He then sought more insurance money, citing additional tornado-related damages, and was paid an additional $160,000 ($134,107 after deducting fees) in September 2021 – the same month that he applied to the city to demolish the building,” the THPA said. “Based on construction estimates, we believe that the insurance payments were more than sufficient to cover the cost of necessary repairs to the building.”

“We understand he has received some funds from the insurance company,” Troy Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington said after Wednesday’s hearing. “Less than $200,000, but that’s not confirmed.”

“It certainly hasn’t been the high amounts that have been alleged,” Titterington said.

“I think we demonstrated clearly today that we will not tolerate disregard for our processes or the rule of law,” he said. “We do not think that there was any respect for our process or the court rulings, which is why we immediately filed an injunction to stop the demolition.”

“We have treated this property the same as we do all properties with issues,” Titterington said. “We always attempt to get voluntary compliance, we notify the property owner of issues more formally, we respect the court process and the judge’s jurisdiction (even when it takes longer than we’d like) and we ultimately hold the property owner accountable with orders, deadlines, and the court process. We have done that in this case, and we will follow that same formula in the future.”

The Tavern Building was damaged by tornadoes in 2020, and later approved for demolition by members of the Troy Planning Commission and Board of Zoning appeals. An appeal of that decision filed by the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance and neighboring property owners blocked the planned demolition, and was affirmed by the Ohio Second District Court of appeals in a decision issued on Friday, March 24.

The city of Troy delivered orders to repair the Tavern Building in July of 2021, and again on Nov. 3, 2022. The building’s owner, Randy Kimmel, was granted an extension for the repair orders until March 9. Some of the ordered repairs to the building were completed in December of 2022.

The deadline for completing the repairs ordered by the city passed on March 10, and on March 15 the city of Troy filed misdemeanor charges against Kimmel for “maintaining structures in a state of disrepair.” The city filed four separate charges, for violations of city ordinances from March 10 to March 14, 2023. The charges are third-degree misdemeanors.

Miami County chief building official Rob England issued an adjudication order on March 27, declaring the Tavern Building an unsafe building/serious hazard and requiring abatement of the hazardous conditions within 14 days.

Workers from Bruns Contracting began demolition of part of the Tavern Building on Wednesday, March 29. Demolition work was halted later that morning by the injunction order issued by Wall.

Mr. Kimmel “had his hand-picked structural engineer submit a report questioning the building’s structural integrity to the county’s Chief Building Officer in a bid to bypass the city’s zoning code – his latest attempt to demolish one of Miami County’s most historic structures,” the THPA statement said. “A similar tactic was used in the fall of 2020. At that time, the city had an independent structural engineer check the work of the property owner’s structural engineer; the independent structural engineer disagreed with key findings.”

“An evaluation of the building must be made by an independent structural engineer who must be given full access to the building,” the statement said. “We are grateful that a Miami County Common Pleas Court judge ordered exactly that. This building’s fate must not rest on evaluations made by individuals who have been hired by the property owner, and Miami County’s adjudication process must not hinge on assessments by individuals who may have potential conflicts of interest. Troy and Miami County deserve better.”

Attorneys for Kimmel said they are also in the process of issuing a statement regarding Wall’s ruling. In addition to the Tavern Building, Kimmel also owns the Brewery, Purebread Coffee and 10 N. Market St. buildings, Titterington said.

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