Three months after fire destroyed three buildings on Main Street in Marlinton, two of the ruined buildings have been removed. Another rubbled structure – the former Hudson Variety building – still mars the downtown area.
Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith said the building is more than just an eyesore.
“It is a safety issue,” he said. “It is a liability issue if it would fall or somebody would get hurt in there.”
The ruined building is also impeding local commerce. A town alleyway that provides access to the First Citizens Bank drive-through window has been blocked since the November 10 fire. Bank Vice President Tim McClung said the blocked street is an inconvenience to his customers, who normally enter the drive-through from Main Street.
The building is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mike Hudson, of Hillsboro. Smith said he was mailing an official notice to the Hudsons on Monday.
“My intention is to contact the owner and, through town ordinances and state code, have the building demolished and the debris removed,” he said. “I will give the property owner a feasible amount of time, 20 to 30 days, to do it.”
The town will continue legal action to have the crumbling ruins removed if the owners do not clear the lot by the deadline. But the mayor expects the lot to be cleaned within a month.
“It’s not going to be a whole, long time,” Smith said. “I’ll be honest about it. In my opinion, it will be done by mid-March.”
Smith doesn’t want the town to remove the debris.
“That is an option, but it’s an option that I don’t think the town should have to do,” he said. “Financially, the town could tear it down. It’s not a money issue with the town. It’s just where the responsibility lies and the responsibility lies with the owner of the property.”
A sale of the property apparently fell through.
“I think Mike Hudson thought he had the property sold and it wasn’t sold,” said Smith. “I thought the sale was a done deal, but last Monday a realtor’s sign went up on the property. So, consequently, something has to be done.”
Chittum looking for commercial tenants
The owners of the other two Main Street buildings destroyed by fire – Kristy Lanier and Zach Chittum – have completely cleaned up their lots.
Mayor Smith had good news regarding Chittum’s lot at the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue. Chittum, who resides in Florida, is in the planning phase for construction of a two-story, nine-unit structure on the lot.
Marlinton native and design consultant Johnathan Smith prepared a floor plan and artist’s rendition of the proposed structure for Chittum. The drawing shows four retail spaces on the ground floor, facing Third Avenue. The plan for the second floor includes five small suites for tourist rentals. The consultant’s drawing shows an attractive stone facade on the side of the building facing Third Avenue.
“It’s a nice looking rendering,” said the mayor. “It may not turn out to look exactly like that, but the plan looks very nice.”
Chittum said on Tuesday that he liked Johnathan Smith’s design and would like to speak with potential commercial tenants. Anyone interested in leasing retail space in Chittum’s new building should contact Zach Chittum at 561-635-4035.
Mayor happy that Dirt Bean will stay
Smith said he was pleased that Kristy Lanier had decided to re-open her popular cafè and bicycle shop in Marlinton.
“I’m very glad that Kristy decided to stay here,” he said. “She bought a house here in Marlinton and I think she’s become one of our permanent residents. She will have, hopefully, within the next few months, her business back open over on Fourth Avenue – hopefully.”
The mayor had no information on Lanier’s plans for the Main Street lot formerly occupied by the Dirt Bean Ohana.