As I’m working this weekend and is the practice here, I was off March 30 on a lieu day tending to other matters so otherwise unaware a building I’ve spent some time writing about lately was going up in flames.
Though I’m not a structural engineer, from a few drivebys Saturday, it appears the larger, three-storey office building on the western side of the two-building complex is a write off. However, it appears the “Timekeepers” building may not have suffered as much fire damage and may still be salvageable. The unknown with Timekeepers is the water damage from everything that was poured onto the other buildings to extinguish the flames.
We already know the two buildings needed to be re-roofed and this was one of the temporary measures recommended to preserve the buildings for a period of about three years until they could be adaptively re-used.
Some questions that I raise at this point— Where was security? The city has a contract (at least for the Greenwich side) for 24-hour security on this land. I don’t know if that’s people around the clock, surveillance or a combination, but obviously not enough for this.
The fire may put an end to all that.
In the social-media world, the heritage advocates are already slamming how indecision over the buildings’ future left them in the state where they were prone to what happened Friday. Mayor Chris Friel was quoted in Friday’s coverage angry over the recent indecision to move forward.
As I’ve stated here before, nothing done — more more succinctly “not done” — in the past year is exclusively to blame. These buildings sat vacant and unused for decades as they slowly deteriorated. Everybody — including the very heritage advocates who might have been yelling for their preservation — let them deteriorate. Nobody was willing to cough up the coin needed to preserve and reuse these buildings.
So while the fire may appease those looking for change in that quadrant of the city, it won’t be cheaper. Now Brantford has been forced to undertake claenup, remediation and demolition at the costs necessary. Taking those costs into consideration, an investigation into cause and suspects might be quite worthwhile.