BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — 8:15 p.m. August 6, 2020: Two buildings that collapsed along Main Street in Beckley are finally being torn down. Crews are still in the very early stages of the process.
Both buildings in need of demolition are surrounded on either side by buildings untouched by the original damage. While both buildings will be fully demolished, Mayor Rob Rappold said the workers are still being careful to not damage the surrounding buildings.
“I’m not a contractor or an engineer but I would think that would require more precision to get that East wall of the Walton building down,” Rappold explained.
They have not added any additional construction equipment to Main Street while they are clear debris from the original damage. Crews are taking the buildings apart brick by brick and removing it from the area.
The construction workers are still trying to determine whether it would be better to begin demolition from the back of the building and move towards Main Street, or work from the street and move back towards this side of the building. While it may not be a short project, Rappold said he is excited to finally get the ball rolling.
“We are glad they are getting started. We will be glad when it is finished and we are happy for the Main Street businesses that have pretty well hamstrung for almost the past five weeks now to get back in business,” Rappold said.
Rappold believes the demolition will take at least two or three weeks. He said it is still up to the owners of the two damaged buildings to determine when the construction that follows will end and when Main Street will reopen.
Mayor Rappold said the owner of the Walton Bond building wants to see the state of the property after the demolition before making a decision. The New Law office does not plan on rebuilding at that spot.
“I’m optimistic that we will together to come up with a plan that not only benefits the owners, but the city of Beckley,” said Mayor Rappold.
6:30 p.m. August 4, 2020: Preparations are underway to begin the demolition of two damaged buildings in uptown Beckley.
Main Street is now completely fenced off and lined with construction equipment. Both buildings will be completely demolished.
Mayor Rob Rappold said he is not sure when demolition will begin, but he believes it will be any day now.
The state requires a ten day waiting period, in order to obtain the necessary permits for the job. Mayor Rappold said the construction company is attempting to waive that period so they can get started right away.
And while things are still up in the air, Mayor Rappold is excited about the quick progress.
“That’s kind of where we are now. I am very relieved that it is getting started, it’s been a while since the original damage took place, so we are excited about that,” said Mayor Rappold.
It’s up to the owners of the two buildings to determine how long construction will take to build new ones, and when Main Street will reopen.
Mayor Rappold said the owner of the Walton bonding building is waiting until after the demolition to make a decision.
Stephen New already decided to not rebuild on the property.
We will continue to keep you updated on this story.
ORIGINAL STORY — 8:41 p.m. July 30, 2020: Beckley city officials are still coming up with a plan for the buildings on Main Street that collapsed back in June 2020.
Originally, it seemed both damaged buildings were going to have to be fully demolished. Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said there is another option.
“So at this point I have some egg on my face. All I can say is we were going off of the information that was given to us initially on several occasions by the insurance company engineers, to our code enforcement officer. We were operating under the idea that those buildings would be totally demolished,” Rappold explained.
The insurance engineers handling the two demolished buildings, along with Beckley Code Enforcement Officer, believe enough of the buildings are still salvageable, meaning they may only need to be partially demolished. Rappold said whether the buildings will undergo a partial demolition or not, is a decision made by the insurance engineers and the owners of Walton Bonding and Steven New Law offices.
“If they decide that, perhaps that’s the best of both worlds,” said Mayor Rappold.
Rappold said after speaking with both owners, neither decided on a full or partial demolition.
“So there is a lot in the air right now that we don’t know and I guess I won’t be totally convinced that the engineers decision is final until I see something in writing,” said Rappold.
Until then, all Mayor Rappold and the city of Beckley can do is wait. As for when Main Street will reopen, that decision has not been made yet.