The contractor that is demolishing the Woodville Mall expects the job to be mostly completed by May.
“Half of the mall is already torn down,” Dayne Bihn, of Paschal Bihn & Sons Excavating, which is razing the mall, said on Wednesday.
“As far as how long it’s going to take, it’ll probably be another two months. After we tear the building down, we have to take all the footers out, take the concrete floor out, and we have to backfill it. Then we’re going to crush all the concrete. So the total project may go into the summer, but most of the work will be done within the next two months,” said Bihn.
The mall has been shut down and boarded up since December 2011 due to violations of several Wood County Health and Ohio Building codes. The building had sustained damage from moisture, mold and water, had a faulty sprinkler system, a leaky roof that soaked the carpeting and buckled the flooring in some sections, causing unsafe walking conditions, and had pipes in danger of freezing over because the gas bills were not getting paid.
Last year, Northwood filed a complaint against the owners of the mall, Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC and Woodville Mall Realty Management LLC, in the Wood County Court of Common Pleas for nuisance abatement and removal of the building.
After a hearing on Aug. 8, Wood County Court of Common Please Judge Reeve Kelsey ruled that the owners must raze the building by May 2, 2014.
Bihn said that The Andersons, which decided not to renew its lease in the mall last year due to its deteriorating conditions, has not yet been torn down due to asbestos in the building, which must be abated.
“More than likely it will come down. But they haven’t done an analytical report – an asbestos survey – to even know exactly how much money it’s going to cost to remove it,” he said.
Sears is still in business and will remain at the site. A judge issued a stay for the former Elder-Beerman store, owned by Woodville LLC.
“We’ll have to go through the whole process with Elder-Beerman if they don’t contract to get it torn down on their own without being forced to,” said Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson. “Right now, that’s up in the air.”
Bihn said there is little to salvage in the mall.
“It has been sitting there vacant for over two years. It had a bad roof that was leaking from summer to winter. A lot of those things that could have been saved got ruined. Other things were already stolen before we got in there. We did save some things - awnings from the food court and some of the lights. Everything that was worth a lot of value that would have been easy for people to steal has already been stolen,” he said.
To prevent scavengers from going through the debris, Bihn said the site, which is surrounded by a chain link fence, is locked up when his crew is finished for the day.
“There is only one entrance to get to that part of the mall where we’re at and we lock that up at night with a chain across it. Anything that’s really left of major value is too big for anyone to take. We have to cut the steel up and process it and load it into the Dumpsters with machines. There’s not a whole lot that someone in a pickup truck could steal.”
Anderson said the city did not incur costs to get the mall demolished.
“The only involvement the city had with that was to issue a demolition permit and obtained a performance bond from the contractor and the mall owner so that we are assured that once they start the project, it will be cleaned up,” said Anderson.
Though the permit expires this summer, Anderson said the city will give the mall owner more time to finish the project if it is not yet completed.
“If there is progress being made, the city will work with them,” he said.