Tavern Building declared unsafe again, judge orders independent expert


By Matt Clevenger and Sheryl Roadcap

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TROY — Troy Fire Chief Matthew Simmons has issued a letter calling for demolition of the Tavern Building located on West Main Street, following an on-site inspection conducted on Tuesday, June 16. Judge Stacy M. Wall of the Miami County Common Pleas Court issued an order to appoint an independent expert witness, due to conflicting expert opinions on the building’s condition, after a conference with counsel on June 21.

“A complete assessment was completed to examine several key structural elements that included floor and ceiling joists, beams, trusses and structural components on the front structural wall and parapet,” Simmons said in the letter, which was dated Friday, June 16. “It was determined that many of the structural elements are unsafe and beyond repair.”

“It was also noted that these conditions have progressed and worsened significantly since previous inspections,” the letter said. “In my opinion, these structural issues render the building unsafe for firefighting operations in the event of a fire, and increase the risks to adjacent buildings in the event of a fire or collapse.”

In the letter, Simmons requests the Miami County Common Pleas Court grant injunctive relief in order to abate the dangerous conditions.

The letter follows on-site inspections conducted by Simmons, at the request of Miami County Chief Building Official Rob England.

“Demolition of the building at 112-118 W. Main St. is required by public safety because of unsafe or hazardous conditions,” England said in a statement dated Tuesday, June 20.

Members of the Troy City Council are currently in the process of debating a resolution to accept donation of the Tavern Building to the city by the building’s owner Randy Kimmel. Council members are scheduled to hear the resolution’s third reading at their meeting on Monday, July 3.

Current estimates to repair the building range from $200,000 to $450,000, Troy director of public service and safety Patrick Titterington said.

“The chief building official and fire chief have concluded this building is unsafe and dangerous,” Titterington said. “Our current estimates, submitted prior to the most recent county court action, are between $200,000-$450,000 to repair. I don’t believe those estimates to be reasonable, nor would I recommend to the City Council that taxpayer funds be used to make those repairs.”

The Miami County Prosecutor’s Office has also filed a complaint in Miami County Common Pleas Court to require the property owner to immediately demolish the building.

“This matter remains before the court, and my focus will be on maintaining the safety of the residents and visitors to our downtown,” Titterington said.

Wall’s order stated, “The court will not order the immediate demolition of the Tavern Building … the court has significant concerns about the reliability and selectivity of the opinions the county offers as support. Mr. England has altered his opinion four times since December 2021. …”

” … Fire Chief Simmons, likewise, is not a structural engineer and has relied on other experts’ opinions. The chief does not provide independent, specific reasons for finding the Tavern Building a fire hazard; moreover, he does not offer rationale why demolition is the only option,” the court document said.

Wall also ordered the building’s the exterior brick wall on the north side of the third floor be shored-up, so that it is no longer in “imminent danger of collapse” on or before July 7, 2023.

Attorneys representing the building’s owner issued a statement on Wednesday, June 21.

“The owner remains committed to finding a true “win-win” solution for the people of Troy,” the statement said. “As the public is aware, the property has been under contract to be redeveloped as a boutique hotel upon demolition. Loss of the hotel contract would cost the city, county, and citizens countless dollars by way of tax revenue, jobs, and new investment in downtown Troy.”

“City officials’ new position requesting emergency demolition is in direct conflict with the city’s past request for an injunction preventing further demolition of the structure,” the statement said.

Troy Historic Preservation Alliance (THPA) President Ben Sutherly said in response to the court’s order:

“The time for collaboration is now. Community nonprofits like Troy Community Works and Troy Historic Preservation Alliance have stood up to be a part of the solution, and we need Miami County, the city of Troy, and other stakeholders to work together toward a solution, too. We are grateful Judge Wall has stepped in and provided desperately needed common sense and leadership at a time when our city and county representatives have failed us. We look forward to the expert witness’s review of this building.”

“The city of Troy remains committed to protecting the safety of the residents and visitors to our unique and beautiful downtown,” Titterington said. “We are very concerned about the condition of the building and we are evaluating any emergency measures that may become necessary. However, we will continue to respect the legal process, while ensuring that any future investments we may make are the most rational and cost-effective allocation of taxpayer dollars.”

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