After sitting for 10 months, the charred remains of the Chrome Nightclub in Roseburg are being dismantled piece by piece, just in time for building owner James Walker to avoid hefty fines.
Walker said Thursday he was notified May 4 that his insurance company, Travelers Insurance, agreed that the walls and foundation are not salvageable.
Construction crews have since begun cleaning up the site and demolishing what’s left of the structure.
The city took Walker to Roseburg Municipal Court on May 1, citing him with failing to remove a dangerous building. He has until Tuesday to get everything cleaned up or face a $500 per day fine.
“Everything is going to be taken care of,” Walker said. “We are going to get this straightened out.”
A fire destroyed the nightclub at 2455 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd. on July 17. Fire investigators were unable to determine what caused the blaze, but concluded it was not set intentionally.
The city’s Community Development Department notified Walker on the day of the fire that his burned-out building is considered dangerous and needs to be removed or rebuilt. Property owners supposedly have 10 days from when they are notified to take action.
Walker said he let the ruins stay because he disagreed with his insurance company’s assessment that the walls and foundation were structurally sound and could be used to rebuild. He hired Rogers Engineering of Roseburg for a second opinion, which concluded that nothing was salvageable, he said.
He submitted the report to the insurance company and said he had been waiting for its approval.
“They finally came around and conceded to the engineer’s report,” he said. “This was just one of the many things I’ve been dealing with.”
Workers are pulling up plywood to be recycled. Walker said the foundation and everything else will be recycled, too.
He said he anticipates that it could take up to two more weeks to remove everything and clean up the site. “Since we are recycling everything, it takes a little longer,” he said.
If Walker doesn’t meet Tuesday’s deadline, he said he will still appear on that day in court to ask the judge for an extension.
“The city has been very considerate, I think,” Walker said. “I can’t complain.”
The city’s community development director, Brian Davis, said he can’t do an inspection and give his approval until all the wreckage is cleared out.
“I am hopeful it will be resolved before next Tuesday,” he said.
Davis visited Walker’s property last Friday on a tour with state officials who are looking for a place to consolidate services provided by the Oregon Department of Human Services.
The state is looking for a building to house social services, rehabilitation and elder protection. The programs are currently spread out in three buildings around Roseburg.
Other properties the state is considering include the former Douglas Community Medical Center on West Harvard Avenue, the vacant Safeway and Rite Aid buildings downtown, county-owned offices at 621 W. Madrone St., buildings on West Harvard that house Family Home Furnishings and Bangkok West Cuisine, and two empty lots at 1910 and 1929 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd.
Walker said he hopes the state will choose his site once the demolition is squared away.
If the state doesn’t take him up on his proposal, he said he hopes to build commercial storefront and apartments along the back of the 5-acre property.
“That’s just my vision,” Walker said. “When there’s a demand for it, I’ll do it. Until then, I’ll hold tight.”
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the March 16 fire at Kuebler’s Furniture at 1100 N.E. Stephens St. in Roseburg.
The furniture company will not face the same sanctions as Walker because it paid the city a fee to avoid fines while it decides what to do.
Kuebler’s insurance company paid a $106 derelict fee and will pay an additional $106 per month for up to a year, according to city officials.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.