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Another eyesore on its way out
Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy
The Briggs Road property that formerly housed the Super Duper has been ordered demolished by a judge, after three years of appeals.
Another Westside eyesore will soon be demolished as a result of several persistent residents and organizations.
The last major retailer to occupy the small strip mall located at 2732-2744 Briggs Road was a Super Duper. That store shut its doors in the 1970s and the building has remained vacant ever since.
Since that time, the building, owned by Thomas Tonti of Briggs Road Shopping center Corp., has been the topic of much unrest for many Westside residents.
“It was really a problem of structural safety more than anything else,” said Chuck Patterson, chair of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
Code enforcement steps in
As a result of complaints filed with the city of Columbus, inspectors were sent to investigate the property in April, 2005.
“Code enforcement is complaint driven,” said Assistant City Attorney Jody Spurlock, explaining that action would not have been taken on the property had it not been initiated by public complaints.
According to the decision of Judge Harland Hale, the inspectors found an unoccupied and unsecured building with several building code violations.
Violations included fallen sheeting inside the building; evidence that the roof sheeting was waterlogged and ready to fall; bar joists, beams and columns that had corroded from exposure to weather; lack of lateral bracing from a roof in that was in disrepair; and cracks in the cement block which indicated a shifting of the building.
Outside of the building, they found the covered walkway was rusted and in need of repair. Inspectors feared materials from the walkway covering were in danger of falling off and causing injury to a passing car or pedestrian.
Neighbors of the property reported to inspectors that material from the exterior of the building had been found in their nearby yards.
As a result of their findings, inspectors issued a building order to Tonti one week after the inspection.
The order determined that the deteriorating building was a danger to the community and instructed Tonti to bring the property up to compliance with the Columbus Building Code.
According to Hale, this process would include submitting plans to the City of Columbus Department of Development, obtaining a building permit, passing all required inspections and receiving final approval.
If Tonti chose not to correct violations, his alternative was to have the property demolished.
Upon receiving the order, Tonti had 30 calendar days to comply or appeal.
For nearly a year after the initial inspections, the building sat untouched. In March of 2006, Tonti filed an appeal, which was denied by the Columbus Building Commission. Another appeal was filed on behalf of Tonti in December, 2006, which was dismissed by the Franklin County Municipal Court, Environmental Division.
In October of 2006, Tonti employed a structural engineer to inspect the property. That inspector reported that the roof had collapsed over 70 percent of the building.
The judge’s decision
In his decision, Hale writes, “Frankly, this building is much more than just an eyesore. It is, and has been, a serious safety issue as well as a harborage of prostitution and criminal mischief.”
He refers to the building as a “partial shell with no roof” and compares it to the Berlin Wall during its collapse.
Hales’ decision, dated June 6, ordered Tonti to demolish the building by Aug, 1 and to restore the property at his own cost.
According to Spurlock, Tonti has 30 days from the date of the decision to file an appeal.
If an appeal is not filed and the building is not demolished by August, the city of Columbus has a right to raze the property and bill Tonti.
The Westside reacts
“It’s an issue the community has really rallied around,” said Gary Baker, former GHAC member.
It’s just been one of those things that’s been an eyesore,” said Patterson, “We’ve all been driving by it for decades.
Patterson feels the removal of the building will serve not only to improve the look of the Hilltop, but also the outlook of those living in the area.
“I think it’s going to have a positive mental effect on the Westside. A lot of our community members came together on this and we get to see a positive result. I hope it will mentally empower people on the Hilltop,” he said, “Maybe it will get people to try other things.”
Upon demolition of the building, the property will still belong to Tonti.
“It’s a wonderful piece of property. It would be great to see something good go there,” Patterson said.
According to Patterson, residents have not yet expressed any hopes for what the property might hold in the future.
“Everyone’s just been so concentrated on getting it gone,” he added.
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