Fire code inspection may force St. Clair building owner to do repairs

The recent concerns with the St. Clair building in downtown Marietta may be addressed sooner rather than later.

Marietta Fire Department Fire Inspector Richard Stewart said during his recent inspection of the 216 Putnam St. building there were several violations to the fire code.

“There were some windows that were a safety and security issue that needed replaced,” he said. “There were also some things like paper and other combustibles that violate the code and need to be removed.”

The inspection of the St. Clair building was conducted on March 1 and gives the First Bank of Ohio, which owns the property, until the end of the month to correct the issues found, according to Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews.

“Richard (Stewart) and David Sweigard, the building inspector for the Washington County Building Department, inspected the building on March 1,” said Matthews. “They noticed a few discrepancies and notified the owner of what those were.”

Stewart said that generally any violation found during the inspection is given a 30-day time frame in order to be corrected.

“There are circumstances where a correction may not be possible in that time frame and then those cases are given extra time,” he said. “If the changes are not made during the 30-day time frame, then another inspection is set and the owner of the building is charged inspection fees for the third inspection.”

Stewart noted that the owner of the building had been informed and he believed steps were being taken to correct the issues.

There are other options available if action isn’t taken by the owner of the building within the given time frame.

“Technically we could go through the process to have the building torn down if the issues aren’t addressed,” said Matthews. “I think it’s safe to say that no one wants that to happen to such a nice old building.”

Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, who had filed a complaint with the health department about the building, said this is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a start, but by no means is this a comprehensive answer,” he said. “There have been people who have offered to buy the building in the past and I hope there are more in the future.”

Kalter added that just doing the minimum for the building isn’t what’s best for the community.

“That building is a historic treasure and I’d love to see some human beings in it,” he said. “If we could get a business in there it would really be beneficial to the downtown economy.”

The St. Clair building was constructed in 1900 and has housed numerous businesses. It has been empty for about a decade.