Partially-Collapsed Historic Building Creates Controversy in Del - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Partially-Collapsed Historic Building Creates Controversy in Delmar

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DELMAR, Del.- An historic building partially crumbled to the ground in Delmar, Del., about a month ago. Officials said it happened in a busy part of town right across from Town Hall. Many say it is an eyesore, and worry about safety.

Jamal Powell was in his barber shop when the gaping hole opened up in the building next door.

“Next I know, I saw the mayor outside and the fire department,” he recalled. “I didn't know what was going on. I heard some of it crumble, I heard some of it hit the ground or whatever, and I just thought it was the trash truck that comes around this area at that time. I didn’t know what to think.”

And he worries the same could happen again.

“It is a concern, because the bricks could come into the street,” noted Powell. “My wife, we use the street every day, so, customers use it every day. It's a busy barber shop. It's just not good.”

But Delmar, Del., Mayor Mike Houlihan said Powell -- and the rest of the town -- can breathe easy.

“Our own engineers and his [the building owner’s] engineer both came out and did studies, and they put in some temporary bracing for the wall that's facing south, so we feel that it's structurally sound,” he told WBOC.

While it may look like an eyesore now, Mayor Houlihan said tearing the historic building down is not an option.

“This is part of our tradition, our heritage,” he said. “It's an historic building. If you tear it down, it's gone forever. And I'm not going to be a part of that.”

The building's owner is in the process of developing plans with the town to preserve the building, adding retail and apartment space.

“One day, a year, five years down from here, this building might be just a jewel here in our downtown,” Houlihan said.

A future people like Jamal Powell are hopeful for.

“Just needs to be renovated and help the downtown Delmar, basically,” he said. “I would like it myself.”

Houlihan told WBOC preliminary plans for the building are already drawn. They must be approved by Planning and Zoning before permits can be issued, and construction can begin.

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