WILKES-BARRE — The painstaking work of demolishing half of the condemned Engle Building while protecting a next door dress store partially connected to the property began Wednesday.
Most of the demolition will be done by hand, said Liza Prokop, spokeswoman for the city.
“They’re taking as much care on that as they can,” Prokop said.
Stell Enterprises Inc. of Plains Township was awarded the $194,861 emergency demolition contract last week to tear down four condemned buildings, three of them owned by the city the other by the Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Authority, that had deteriorated to the point of being in danger of collapse near the intersection of South Main and West Northampton streets. Two buildings in the middle of the cluster are to be spared, complicating the demolition process that began Monday. The work is expected to last until at least Nov. 22.
Workers razed two city-owned buildings at 73 and 75 S. Main St. Nearly half of the roof and most of the rear wall of the city-owned property at 71 S. Main St. were knocked down, exposing the collapsed floors. The brick side walls remained intact and one of them stood approximately eight feet from the temporarily closed Place One at the Hollywood at 67 S. Main St.
The demolition plan calls for leaving the front of 71 S. Main standing that’s connected to the dress store by a 40-foot section of wall. The buildings also share a facade dating back to the 1800s.
The dress store and the Frank Clark Jeweler next door at 63 S. Main will stay if all goes according to plan. The stores were determined to be structurally sound by an engineer hired by the city to inspect its properties being shopped to a potential developer. But the conditions of the neighboring buildings put them at risk of damage and the city ordered them to temporarily shut down.
The city paid to relocate the contents and furnishings of Place One to Scranton to a property the store’s owner Michaelene Coffee closed in order to move to Wilkes-Barre. The city also will pay to return the items to Wilkes-Barre. The total cost of the trips is $8,800. The owner of the jewelry store, Ilona Bruns, relocated to her other jewelry store Ocean Gold store in Nanticoke. Her property is next 61 S. Main St. the Redevelopment Authority’s building targeted for demolition.