AMHERST - Town crews were forced to close off part of the sidewalk on Havelock Street late last week after a safety issue was identified with the former Bird's Drapery Building.
"It came to our attention that there was a potential safety issue with the outside brick work on one of the upper floors of that building," Amherst's CAO Greg Herrett said Tuesday. "We took the action that was necessary to notify the owner and have the repairs done to remove the risk to the public."
Herrett said a visual inspection of the building following a complaint revealed several pieces of brick near the top of the building were loose and in danger of falling to the street below.
"We couldn't make the hazard go away just by putting barricades up so we decided to take corrective action," said Herrett.
Along with notifying the owner, Alex Tang, the town hired Vaughn Martin to make the necessary repairs. Herrett did not have the cost of the repairs at hand Tuesday, but said the cost will be passed onto the building's owner.
The sidewalk in front of the building, that has the Amherst Mural Project's Signature Mural on the north side, was barricaded late last week when the problem was identified. The barricades were removed Monday after the work was completed.
This is the second downtown building owned by Tang to have problems. Back in the fall, the town's dangerous and unsightly premises committee ordered an engineering study of the former police station at the corner of LaPlanche and Victoria streets after concerns were raised with the brickwork on the front of that building.
"It's a fairly complex situation and we're continuing to follow the process," Herrett said. "We want to make sure we go through all the proper steps so we don't jeopardize any action that we need to take at a later date."
Herrett confirmed the town has been in contact with Tang about that building, but did not want to get into the specifics other than to say the town is working with the owner to rectify the situation as soon as possible.