Fisher Street closed by threat of facade collapse

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2013

SALISBURY — Part of East Fisher Street was closed Friday after inspectors said Benchwarmers’ brick facade could be in danger of collapsing.
Todd Littleton, the owner of Benchwarmers at 113 E. Fisher St., said he noticed last weekend that something was wrong.
There have been several heavy rains in Salisbury over the past few weeks. Littleton said it appears that water had been soaking through cracks in the facade, weakening the structure and creating more cracks.
“This is a 100-year-old building,” he said. “We don’t want any bricks falling on anybody, and we noticed a couple of them have chipped away.”
Littleton asked representatives from Central Piedmont Builders to take a look at the two-story building and see what kind of repairs were needed. They first visited earlier in the week before coming back on Friday. Chris Branham, the city of Salisbury’s code enforcement division manager, said Central Piedmont Builders called him around 5:15 p.m. Friday.
“The contractor called me, concerned that it appeared it was getting worse sort of rapidly,” Branham said. “He was concerned about it falling.”
Branham went out to the site to meet the contractor, a Salisbury fire inspector and a Rowan County building inspector.
“We all investigated and looked at it and agreed there was a definite possibility of the front brick facade collapsing,” he said. “It doesn’t appear the whole building itself is in danger.”
Branham said when inspectors checked the inside of the building, there were no signs of stress on the celings. That indicates that only the facade is shifting, not the building’s whole floor system.
“We decided for the safety of the general public to close off the sidewalk and the street,” Branham said. “It will be closed off until it is stabilized.”
He said it will be up to a structural engineer to decide how that can happen. It could be repairable, or the facade may need to be removed and replaced.
Littleton said the contractor will be back Monday, and he will find out more then about how the problem can be fixed.
“Our first priority is to make sure the building is safe,” Littleton said.
The current owner of the building is J.W.R. properties, but Littleton occupies about 75 percent of it and said he will be taking ownership soon.
The bar owner said he hopes to be making upfits to the building in the near future.
A barber shop and another business are located next to Benchwarmers in the building.
“This is the first Friday we’ve been closed in 18 years,” Littleton said. “We’re going to fix whatever needs to be fixed and come back with even more to offer.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.