Columbia officials fear historic building could collapse

COLUMBIA, Pa. (WHTM) – Officials have closed a section of Locust Street because they fear a historic building could collapse.

While officials worry about the building at 208-210, the road closure is causing frustrations with other business owners on the street.

Mike Martinelli owns B&T Sportswear on Locust Street, just a few doors down from the building in question. He says he’s had to tell customers the street is closed and he’s making special accommodations for parking.

“It is frustrating, but it’s part of owning a business,” Martinelli said.

Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz said the building in question had structural problems in the past. He said time and weather have caused more concerns.

“It started to bulge out and one corner is bulged out now,” Lutz told ABC 27 News. “Some of the bricks have fallen.”

Locust Street, also known as Route 441, isn’t helping matters. Lutz said the vibrations from typical truck traffic could cause the building to fall. He said that’s why they’ve closed the road.

“It’s also frustrating that things get into a safety mode where we really have to be concerned about what happens with the safety of pedestrians,” Lutz said.

Code enforcement officials said the owner has hired a contractor to fix the problem, but they said there’s no timetable of when the issues will be fixed.

Lutz said until everything is taken care of, they’ll continue to monitor the situation.

“It’s very frustrating to have to spend the time, money, and the effort to tie up so many people,” Lutz said. “I have police officers tied up, I’ve got fire policemen tied up on someone’s property, that they didn’t maintain.”

Lutz said he plans to have an engineer take a look at the building on Monday.

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