City officials informed the Lewisville City Council Monday night that they intend to demolish the building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Mill Street.
Formerly the home of K&W Auto Parts, the building and land at 102 S. Mill St. was purchased by the City of Lewisville for $415,000 this May. The city purchased the adjacent land that was the former home of Sonic Drive-In, and hopes to combine the properties and sell them to a developer who will bring in a nice retail or restaurant use.
It was known by the city at the time of purchase that the building had problems, including a partial wall collapse on the eastern side, roof issues, asbestos, and some soil contamination associated with its use as a fuel station and auto shop.
Assistant City Manager Claire Swann said the city originally had a timeline of August to decide what to do with the building, and whether it was salvageable, but that timeline had accelerated after an employee recently noticed that the wall was bowing after recent storms.
“When we first got the keys to the building, Cleve [Joiner] went over to check out the structure, and came back and sat and my office and told me ‘I could post this as a substandard structure today- what do you want me to do?’, said Swann. Swann said she sought a third-party opinion from Techni Structures, a structural engineering firm. That firm came back and told Swann that it was an unsafe structure with significant costs to repair and retrofit.
“After we received that, we were going to bring that back to you guys for consideration, but we had that windstorm about two weeks ago,” she said. “Our housing rehab specialist came into work and told Cleve the wall’s bowing.”
Fearing a collapse that could injure passersby on the sidewalk, Lewisville Director of Neighborhood Services Cleve Joiner asked to close the sidewalk. The city declared the building substandard last Wednesday. A temporary chain link fence surrounds the western and northern sides of the brick building.
Swann said the city had already sought quotes from demolition companies to get the work done.
Joiner told the Council Monday that the building’s structural problems had recently accelerated, and that the western wall was now leaning inward, where he had previously been concerned it might fall into the street.
“In May of 2001, there was a two-alarm fire there that caused significant damage,” said Joiner. “I do not show a building permit on the repairs,” he added. “It’s a very weak roof, and there’s been water getting in there over time. If you were to fix it today to meet the current energy standards, the roof wouldn’t support the weight of the insulation,” Joiner said. “It’s just in really bad shape.”
Joiner showed the councilmembers photos of the building’s problems.
He said that last year’s wind storm in Old Town on May 10 had collapsed the eastern wall, which has since been patched with fencing material. That area is completely covered now with ivy growing up the side of the building.
“If you were to do any kind of rehab in the building, first you’d have to shore up the building so it’s safe for anybody to work in,” he said. “Well, that would all have to be done in controlled conditions— everybody wearing masks, everybody wearing suits, just to shore it up.”
“And then once it’s shored up, you’d have to do the asbestos removal,” said Joiner. “It’s too dangerous to even do that, because once you start messing with it, more of the building could collapse,” he added.
Joiner said that even salvage of materials from the building would be hampered by the need to remove asbestos. In response to a question from Councilman Brandon Jones, Joiner said that asbestos abatement alone would probably cost around $50,000 if the city tried to salvage the building.
Joiner told the council that he thought the demolition would cost around $20,000 – $25,000, and that it needed to happen as soon as possible. Because of the asbestos in the building, the city would have to put air monitors upwind and downwind, and dispose of the rubble in a landfill that would accept asbestos.
“It’s a really dangerous building, and we’ve had transients in there, and some other issues. It’s moved. It’s starting to move. It’s just a matter of one more storm— maybe two more,” said Joiner.
No council members objected to tearing down the building.
Economic Development Director Nika Reineke said that because the building will be razed, the old leaking fuel and oil storage tanks beneath the building will need to be removed rather than filled in. She also said that contaminated soil would have to be removed. Altogether, that remediation and the monitoring process required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA would cost about $180,000.
In May, she told The Lewisville Texan Journal that the city might be able to get EPA grants to help pay for the cleanup.
Reineke said she would probably recommend the city go ahead and demolish the Sonic buildings in conjunction with the K&W demolition. “It’s going to be a lot easier for us to market it to a user,” said Reineke.
Monday night when The Lewisville Texan Journal visited the building for photos, it was apparent that the western wall had a definite lean inwards. The ceiling under the porte-cochère was badly deteriorated, and elements of steel, stucco, and brick had begun to separate – with a pile of freshly-fallen stucco bits beneath one of the brick columns.