“We are beginning to have problems with how the old People’s Theater is affecting the buildings next to it, especially the flower shop on the corner.” Scherer said in his report. “It may be causing some rainwater to be leaking into that building.”
Scherer said a structural engineer will look at the situation “to advise us what our options are with the building, to include possible demolition and removal.”
The city just recently took the marquee off the building because of safety concerns, Scherer said following the meeting. He said the marquee, which loomed over the sidewalk, was apparently starting to pull away from the building.
Scherer said the building is not repairable and it remains in private ownership meaning if the building could be saved a potential buyer would be tied because of that status.
City Attorney Gilbert Chichester said following the meeting the city does have a court order which allows the demolition of the building, located near the intersection of Roanoke Avenue and Second Street.
The city has been unable to get in contact with the owner, Eric Bowman, who said in 2012 he had planned to open a jazz and blues venue, an effort to ride on the coattails of the Roanoke Rapids Theater.
With the failure of the music and entertainment district to catch fire, he said then he was exploring a dinner theater concept.
Scherer couldn’t give a cost estimate on the demolition of the building. After the meeting, he said, “It’s going to be expensive. It’s not in any condition to rehabilitate.”
City Public Works Director Larry Chalker said before the meeting the marquee had to be removed because “it was hanging over a public sidewalk. The structure holding it is compromised.”
Chalker said a rough estimate of demolition of the building would most likely be at least $300,000. There would also be asbestos abatement to factor in.
Water had begun settling on the rubber roof. “Now there’s a hole and it’s getting down from the roof.”
In another matter regarding demolition, council approved an order directing the city’s code enforcement officer to demolish and remove a house at 1004 Cedar Street.
“The dwelling … violates the minimum housing code by reason of the conditions and deficiencies found to present and to exist in and about …” the planning and development department noted in the order. “In its current condition, the dwelling is unfit for human habitation.”