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American Building

People walk past scaffolding built along Central Avenue in this May file photo, and a fence closing the sidewalk alongside of the American Building in downtown Coos Bay.

COOS BAY — For several weeks, a scaffolding has been in place in front of the American Building on Central Avenue in downtown Coos Bay.

The city of Coos Bay has attempted a number of times to work with the owner Greg Flanders to make necessary renovations to the building. The latest agreement the city, made with Flanders, was to put up the scaffolding to protect pedestrians from loose bricks that have the potential of falling off of the building.

As of Feb. 22, Flanders had a month to put up the scaffolding, and 90 days to develop a plan to fix the building.

If Flanders has not developed a plan by the end of the 90-day period, the city has the authority to label the American Building as dangerous and vacate the tenants.

The 90-day cutoff is Tuesday, and according to Coos Bay Public Works Director Jim Hossley, the owner of the building has yet to submit any sort of plan for renovation.

“They haven’t submitted anything to the city, yet. I’ve asked my code enforcement person to check and see where we are on that deadline date and see if the owner is close or not. I understand that they’re in the process of doing something, but we don’t have anything yet in our office from them,” Hossley said.

The American Building is located on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Second Street and is home to the coffee house So It Goes, American Family Insurance and the new nightclub Skybar, as well as several other business offices. If a plan isn’t submitted in time, these businesses could be forced to vacate the building.

Local property management company E.L Edwards manages the property for the Flanders, who lives out of state.

Around a year ago, the city noticed that some of the Bricks surrounding the windows of the building were beginning to bulge outward suggesting that the metal structures around the windows, called lintels, are deteriorating.

In June 2017, the city of Coos Bay sent a letter to the owner of the American Building saying that the bulging bricks were dangerous and some renovations must be made. The city’s letter also included a list of recommendations from the engineering firm Stuntzner Engineering and Forestry LLC.

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Aside from advising something be done about the deteriorating window structures causing bricks to loosen, Stuntzner also suggested further structural testing be done to the building.

The city gave Flanders till Aug. 15, 2017, to submit a building permit to make the repairs.

It was the city’s original plan to have repairs done by Oct. 31, 2017, so that winter weather would not put further stress on the oxidized window structures.

On Aug. 16, 2017, Hossley sent out another letter to Flanders after no building permit was filled by the deadline.  

In the letter Hossley said, “If you do not submit a plan for repair along with a building permit application by 5 p.m. Friday Sept. 15, 2017 the city will proceed with its own investigation of the building. As you have refused to allow the city’s consultant access to your building, the investigation will done from the city right-of-way.”

Proper plans and permits were not filed by the deadlines the city provided. By the end of 2017 the city began moving forward with a further investigation of the buildings structure.

Structural conditions of the building were found to be substandard, that is when the city send its Feb. 22  letter to Flanders.

The city’s structural engineering consultant, ZCS, found that 75 percent of the American Building's windows showed noticeable signs of distress. Based on what ZCS observed under the sidewalk when testing the structure it’s believed that the building is supported by timber piles and that the piles have decayed.

If Flanders fails to provide a repair plan by the deadline, and the city decides the building is too dangerous to be used, there is still a 30-day appeal process that Flanders can undergo. 

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