Update: Work underway to prevent building collapse

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Eric Blackstock - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Slowly and carefully, work crews are trying to stabilize a Jackson Ward building that's in danger of collapsing.

There are now two big forklifts applying pressure to the second floor and the roof of the structure, located at the corner of W. Marshall and N. Adams Streets. They're making sure the building doesn't collapse when they try to pull an SUV from what used to be the front door.

There was little hope of saving what's left of the building's broken outer wall. So work crews, this afternoon, began removing the last remaining loose bricks, sending them down to the pile of masonry that used to be the entrance of the Marshall Street Café.

It's been two days since a woman crashed her SUV into a VCU police car, then ricocheted into the dining room.

Kelvin Hanson is the building's owner.

"It was actually closed, it was their first day off in six weeks, and we just consider that a blessing," Hanson said.

Within hours of the crash, Hanson called Walter Parks, an architect. While it might look bad, Parks says the building is indeed salvageable.

"The part of the building that's failed is only about 12 feet deep. That's why we want to shore up the next  beam, because then, everything from there back is sound," Parks said.

What's important now, is the time-consuming process of making sure nothing else falls down. That means the SUV stays right where it is, for at least another day.

"If you pulled it out right now without doing any shoring, the beam that's rest on the beam that's fallen  would also fall, and we would lose one more bay of the building. The whole thing won't come down, but it'll fall  down to the next structural bay," Parks said.

With the second floor and roof apparently secure, crews next will go in and shore-up the walls. The owner is feeling optimistic.

"We can save 75% of the building, we'll probably lose 25% of it," Hanson said.

As of Monday evening, two blocks of W. Marshall St. were closed between Brook Road and 1st St. N. Adams is closed between Broad St. and Marshall St. Roads near the crash site are expected to stay closed for at least part of Tuesday, so plan on avoiding the if you usually drive through it.

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