A block of Lafayette’s South Street was closed Tuesday after a portion of the historic EM Weaver building at Five Points collapsed overnight. A contractor was brought in to stabilize the building after a segment of the outer wall fell into the street around 5 a.m.
Lafayette Fire Chief Richard Doyle says firefighters at a station across the street from the building heard the collapse.
“They cleaned it up as best they could, and a little after 6:00 came in and decided to shut the street down,” Doyle says.
More debris continued to fall throughout the morning. Doyle says the goal is to stabilize the building before it’s razed sometime next month.
An excavator tore away some of the building as Lafayette Building Commissioner Mark Gick was onsite. He says there’s still work that needs to be done to prepare for the rest of the structure to come down.
“It’s a domino effect. The owner is in the process of buying the building next door, which will make the demolition of this building much easier,” Gick says.
He says owning the neighboring building will allow them to pull the debris from demolition in that direction, rather than into South Street.
Building owner Dan Vierk says they thought the structure would last until the scheduled demolition on Sept. 13. A contractor is on scene stabilizing the building. pic.twitter.com/Pypqgv8s8S
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Building owner Dan Vierk says the collapse doesn’t change the timeline for demolition of the building.
“We’ve been monitoring the building, and prior to [Monday], we were comfortable that it wouldn’t come down,” Vierk says. “But all the rain brought it down.”
Work on the EM Weaver building is part of a larger project to develop Five Points and the surrounding area, though it’s unclear what the timeline is for any other developments.
Vierk says he plans to turn it into commercial space on the lower level, with condominiums above. The entire building will be torn down, but he’d like to preserve some of the historical elements and reconstruct it.
“We’ll be, in that historical significance, maintaining the architectural elements that exist, if we’re able to salvage them. Otherwise, we’ll duplicate them,” Vierk says.
The building previously housed an electronics store and a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, as well as other businesses.