As Charleston building officials grapple with historic building failures across downtown, they approved the demolition of much of a St. Philip Street office and issued an emergency order to vacate part of Read Brothers until repairs are made there.
In March, a part of the front facade of 11½ St. Philip St. crumbled onto a parked car, injuring no one but posing enough threat to warrant further demolition, said John Martin, an adviser to Mayor John Tecklenburg.
Because the possibility of further collapse, its demolition was authorized without a vote of the city's Board of Architectural Review, Martin said, adding, "We were concerned about the threat to public safety, as well.”
Colin Colbert of CKC Properties acquired the St. Philip property in December 2014. Originally built in the early 20th century for school offices, the building had sat empty and crumbling for decades.
Colbert said Tuesday the demolition work is largely complete, and the nearby Memminger Elementary School parking lot should reopen next week.
"We have not begun considering options for building back what was lost at this point," he said in an email. "We are happy to have made what's left of the building safe and look forward to developing plans to rebuild in the future."
Meanwhile, Martin said the city ordered the one-story structure at 591-589½ King St. vacated until structural repairs there are done. That portion houses the stereo portion of the store, which also sells fabrics.
Last week, the city sent Thomas Read a letter saying the one-story building "has been determined to be an immediate threat to public safety."
Read did not return a message left Tuesday.
Chief Building Official Edye Graves wrote a letter to Read last week saying the building needs six specific repairs for unsafe conditions, including: a roof replacement and structural repairs on the one-story section; facade and structural repair on the main three-story building at 593 King; clamps on the northeast corner column at 593 King; as well as roof, masonry and steel lintel repairs.
The city hired structural engineer Craig Bennett to survey the Read Brothers building and assess safety threats, but Graves said Read Brothers must hire its own structural engineer and contractor to move forward.
"That contractor has not touched base with the city yet,” Martin said Tuesday.
Graves' letter said if the violations are not adequately addressed, "the city may issue a criminal court summons."