Archived Story

Days numbered for former public safety building

Published 8:00am Thursday, November 14, 2013

The old public safety building, which has sat vacant for approximately 10 years at the corner of Broadway and Third Streets, has been targeted for demolition by the City of Niles.

Earlier this week, the city council authorized the expenditure of funds to perform an environmental assessment of the structure — a necessary step before it can be torn down.

City Administrator Ric Huff said there have been discussions about putting in high-density housing at the site if the building is razed, but nothing is set in stone.

“You’d be looking at townhouses, or something like that along that riverfront bluff,” he said.

The former public safety building was built in 1939 on land acquired by the city from Dr. Robert Carr. The police department operated out of Carr’s residence from 1926 until the structure was completed at a cost of $96,550.

The city’s police and fire departments then used the building until the Niles Law Enforcement Complex was built in 2003.

The former public safety building has been for sale ever since.

Huff said many ideas have been thrown around for the use of it, but all of them proved too cost-prohibitive.

“Nobody’s been able to come up with a viable use for it,” he said. “Now, it’s been empty for so long… that the ceilings inside have fallen in, the plaster’s off the walls. It’s in really bad shape now.”

The oldest section of the building, formerly the public works garage located on the west side, is in line to be removed first.

Huff said a few local foundations have pledged to help the city remove that portion.

“Right now, I don’t see any major road block that would keep us from getting the oldest part of the building down over the winter,” he said.

Whether the city can do the whole building depends on the assessment and what type of remediation must be done.

Huff said he’s hopeful state grants will be available next year for the entire demolition, estimated at $500,000.

“If that doesn’t happen we still have to keep looking at other funding sources to get that goal accomplished,” he said. “I don’t see much change in that neighborhood happening until that building is gone. It is an anchor there and it is kind of an eye sore right now — a very large empty building sitting there on a major corner of our city.”

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