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Last updated 9:30PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Assessing/Rebuilding Main Avenue After the Fire
(2008-03-06)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: It's becoming more apparent the February 22nd Main Avenue blaze in Durango did much more than destroy three businesses.
And it's becoming more apparent day by day, recovering from the blaze, could take a long time.
KSUT's Victor Locke has this update.

LEONARD: WE'RE EVACUATING, SELLLING EVERYTHING, GETTING OUT BY THE END OF MARCH.
Eddie Leonard, owner, Angels and Lights Stained Glass was planning to go out of business anyway, but he hoped to have an orderly going out of business sale.
Then came the fire that gutted Seasons, Half Price Tees and Le Rendevous, February 22nd.
LEONARD: OUR GALLERY HAS BEEN IMPACTED BY SMOKE COMING THROUGH THE WALL AND THROUGH THE DUCTWORK AND ALSO WE FOUND OUT THAT THE LANDLORD HAS SOME REMEDIATION TO DO UPSTAIRS BECAUSE OF THE FIRE AND THE SMOKE, HE HAS SOME ASBESTOS TILES UP THERE THAT MAY HAVE TO BE REMOVED IN THE PROPER WAY, SO WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BUILDING BEFORE THEY DO THAT.
Leonard's not alone, in fact his problems pale compared to others.
Several apartments and offices above Angels and Lights are now empty.
Businesses adjacent to the fire scene, The Marketplace and Termar Gallery, are also now vacant, so they can be cleaned and smoke damage repaired.
Gardeswartz outdoors is also undergoing smoke recovery.
The Gardenswartz and Marketplace buildings are also still being evaluated for structural damage that may have to be addressed.
And the asbestos problem forcing Leonard out may be minor in comparison to the problems asbestos poses in the remains of the burned out century old buildings.
City Planning Director Greg Hoch says they hope to know soon how much asbestos was inside the three businesses.
HOCH: IF THERE'S ASBESTOS THEY HAVE TO KIND OF SEAL THE SITE WITH A BIG SORT OF TARP OR PLASTIC THING OVER ALL THREE STRUCTURES. AND PROBABLY TAKE A COUPLE OF MONTHS, A MONTH OR TWO TO CLEAN THE ASBESTOS OUT. THAT COULD REALLY DELAY A LOT OF THINGS.
Right now the city's goal is to reopen the street to pedestrian traffic so other businesses aren't hurt.
But Hoch says that could be impacted again, when actual demolition begins especially if debris is removed onto Main Avenue.
HOCH: WHICH THEN, YOU KNOW IT CLOSES THE SIDEWALK AS THEY'RE DOING THE DEMOLITION. MOREOVER, YOU KNOW, YOU FIGURE THAT THE VEHICLES ARE GOING TO BE BACKING UP THERE TO GET THE STUFF DUMPED IN THEM AND HAULED OUT, THEY'RE GOING TO DISRUPT MAIN AVENUE TRAFFIC BUT THEY'RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO USE THE SIDEWALK.
Hoch says least one, if not more of the buildings have voids beneath the sidewalk which can't support heavy equipment.
Then there's insurance.
HOCH: IT COULD TAKE MONTHS, JUST TO GET THE INSURANCE COMPANIES SORT OF SQUARED AWAY BETWEEN EACH OTHER AND WHO'S GOING TO PAY. SO THAT I THINK, IS PROBABLY GOING TO TAKE QUITE A BIT OF TIME. IN THE MEANTIME THE OWNERS ARE GOING TO NEED TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER THEY REBUILD INTO WHAT WAS ESSENTIALLY THERE BEFORE, WHICH IS WHAT THEY HAD INSURED, OR IF THEY HAVE ENOUGH RESOURCES OR FUNDS, WILL THEY DECIDE TO GO TWO STORIES.
Going to two stories would require more city oversight and approvals than simply rebuilding to the original one story structures.
Whatever is built would also have to blend in with the downtown streetscape and character.
Rebuilding will also pose challenges since the buildings are all separately owned and at least one is tied into an adjacent building.
Season's owner Karen Barger said earlier, she'd like to reopen on her present site by December.
Hoch says rebuilding in ten months is going to be a challenge.
HOCH: I'M NOT GOING TO SAY IT'S IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE WHEN SEEMINGLY INSURMOUNTABLE TASKS ARE ATTACKED WITH EVERY POSSIBLE RESOURCE AVAILABLE, WHICH INCLUDES CASH, NO LEGAL PROBLEMS, CODE AND ARCHITECTURE ALL BEING RESOLVABLE, AND THEN CONSTRUCTION ENSUING, AND THEN, AND THAT SORT OF THING....YOU KNOW, IT JUST SEEMS LIKE TEN MONTHS IS AN AWFUL SHORT TIME.
The future for the three burned out businesses and their neighbors grows more uncertain it seems every day as the effects of the fire are learned.
For Eddie Leonard, his going out of business sale is compressed from 90-to-30 days.
He'll close up March 31st instead of June 1st, to make way for cleanup.
LEONARD: IT JUST PUTS MORE STRESS ON US AND FORCES US TO SELL AT DEEPER DISCOUNTS IN ORDER TO LIQUIDATE EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE, WHICH AS YOU CAN SEE IS MANY TONS OF SUPPLIES.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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