As a nationally recognized Main Street program, we rarely seek demolition as the solution for an aging property. Along with the City Design Review Board, we work closely with property owners and consider all the factors when discussing the options for a neglected building. In the case of 212 East Main, however, demolition of the property started long before June.
The neglect of a historic building is the second type of demolition. It doesn’t take machinery or work crews, instead it requires no action at all. Demolition by neglect is the destruction of a building through abandonment or lack of required maintenance. By simply not performing routine maintenance on the low pitched roof, aging wood windows and clapboard siding, you can ensure the demolition of a great building in a matter of years. This is why strong and growing businesses in our downtown are the surest way to achieve preservation. Having a store or business located in a building is a safe bet that the owner is performing the maintenance these older properties require. The longer a building sits vacant the greater the threat of demolition either because of an impoverished owner, an absentee landlord, or an uncaring attitude toward the goals of the downtown community. After being exposed to the elements and multiple vandalisms for too long, the building’s integrity becomes jeopardized and renovation is no longer economical. The most cost-effective solution for cleanup is then demolition.
When the last resort is demolition, we strive to make sure it happens with little disruption to neighboring businesses and downtown activity. We also make sure that a plan is in place for what the property will become once the building is gone. By working closely with the property owners, we can help them plan out a use for the open space to make sure it becomes an asset to Main Street and not an eyesore. We are saddened by the most recent victim of demolition, but excited about the future plans for the property and the role it will play in continuing to transform Downtown Van Wert into a more vibrant and thriving district.