Going, going, gone

by | February 7, 2019 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 6, 2019 at 9:37 am

The demolition of two-thirds of the former Sweat Implement Co. building brought new meaning to the term fast track.
A large portion of the southern wall of the large brick building came crashing to the ground on the afternoon of Jan. 27.
When the work week began on Jan. 28, Walterboro officials designated the building an imminent danger.
That designation, Walterboro Assistant City Manager Hank Amundson offered, translated into “as fast as you can go mode.” He projected that two-thirds of the building would be “on the ground in the next couple of weeks.”
The severely damaged two-thirds of the building was on the ground and much of the demolition debris was on its way to the landfill before sundown on Jan. 31.
Amundson said his prediction of a couple of weeks was based on if something popped up to delay the demolition.
That rapid change from eyesore to clear lot, he said, reflected the power of the term imminent danger.
An example of the power of the term, he said, can be found in obtaining the necessary demolition permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Services. Instead of going through a traditional waiting period for the permit needed to remove and dispose of asbestos-laced building materials, Amundson explained, the permit showed up the same day the designation was put to work.
The demolition still had to abide by DHEC regulations concerning the presence of asbestos. Throughout the demolition and removal of the debris, Amundson said, a man armed with a hose continuously sprayed water on the area to keep the dust down. “There was a person out there taking air quality tests the whole time of the demolition.”
The building was on its way to being demolished before the wall fell. The legal questions had been answered and bids had been sought from demolition companies to bring the building down.
“Everybody understood that the building needed to come down,” Amundson said.
The initial plan before the wall tumbled was to tear down the troublesome southern two-thirds of the building and save the northern one-third.
That plan remains in place as long as a structural engineer deems that portion sound, and plans are made to address “the raw wall” that will now become an exterior wall. That work will have to improve the safety and aesthetics of the wall — the city won’t issue an occupancy permit until that work is done.
The imminent danger designation will enable the city to cover the cost of the demolition with city funds and then place a lien against the property for the costs. When the property is sold, the city can recoup its funds.
In this case, the city does not have to foot the entire bill. “Charlie (Sweat) participated heavily in this project financially,” Amundson said.
The portion of the bill not covered by Sweat’s contribution to the demolition will be placed as a lien on the property tax records should the property be sold.
“With Parker’s going in three doors down, this becomes a prime piece of real estate,” Amundson said.
Based on the success of the partnership to bring the building down quickly, Amundson said, the city is planning to seek approval for proposals to have a demolition contractor and an environmental services contractor to handle similar situations in the future.

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