The Big Red ‘X’

Deemed unsafe by the City Building Enforcement Board several months ago, two Marietta buildings are still bearing the reflective scarlet letters that warn first responders to stay out.

The red and white placards are mandated by the Ohio Fire Code and let Marietta City Firefighters know not to enter the structurally unsound buildings when fighting a fire.

While no new buildings have been added to the list since July, so far no improvements have been made that would allow for the removal of the warning placards at the former Wine Shop at 162 Front St. or a structurally unsound building on the former Kardex lot at 900 Greene St., said Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.

“At this time, we haven’t been advised of any issues that have changed in them,” said Durham Thursday.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, who chairs the Building Code Enforcement Board, said the city has remained in contact with both building owners about the status of the buildings.

According to the Washington County Auditors Office, the Greene Street property is owned by Two Rivers Development, LTD, and the Front Street property is owned by Cathco Inc. However, the Front Street property is in the process of being purchased through a land contract by Roger Anderson via his corporation, Vino et Hops.

Jeff Starner, co-owner of Two Rivers Development with local businessman John Lehman, said his company agreed a warning placard on the wooden and aluminum structure near the rear of the Kardex site was appropriate while the company works to develop the site into upscale residential and commercial properties.

“It’s obviously a big project. One of the agendas of the re-development will be tearing down that wooden building,” he said.

Currently the site is awaiting an environmental assessment, which is fully funded through a grant. That assessment, which will determine what issues need addressed during development, has been bid out and work should begin when the weather breaks, said Starner.

The former Wine Shop, which is in the heart of downtown’s shopping district, remains similarly in limbo. Caution tape now encircles the rear of the building where some of the facade is crumbling into the lot below.

Anderson did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. However, Matthews said his conversations with Anderson have indicated he intends to repair the building,

Jean G. Farmer, executive director of Marietta Main Street, confirmed this intention.

“Buildings really matter to these people. It looks like they’re still just sitting there. They bought these buildings because they didn’t want to see them torn down,” said Farmer.

Though no progress has been made on the two unsound properties, the city administration understands it is not an immediate process, said Matthews.

“Hopefully they do something soon, but it’s like everything else. Money is tight and it’s hard to do these things,” he said.

Currently, the city is satisfied that plans are in place to deal with the buildings, he said.

However, in the event an unsafe building is neglected for an unreasonable amount of time, the city has recourse through the Ohio Fire Code, said Matthews.

“We can order them to repair or demolish it. If they don’t, we can cite them for it,” he said.