Main Streets group discusses state of building on Front Street
Part of the discussion at the May 30 meeting of Main Streets, Catasauqua Borough’s business owners association, was the inconsistent application of building code violations.
“What we have seen is that the code enforcement officers go after minor violations and ignore larger problems,” association President Kimberly Brubaker said.
The meeting was held at Tony’s Top Cat, 607 Front St., Catasauqua, and owner Tony Castaneda had a situation to emphasize the point right next door.
The property at 605 Front St. is abandoned.
“Everyone moved out because they had so many problems, and the owner didn’t do anything to make repairs,” Castaneda said.
According to Castaneda, problems with the building began about two years ago.
“A crack opened up on the back part of the building. Key Codes came out and looked at it,” he said.
Apparently, there was a temporary remedy put in place to keep the extension from collapsing. The borough no longer uses Key Codes, and Castaneda indicated he was not able to get the Key Codes report. The recommended repair was a couple of 2-foot-by-8-foot lumber studs nailed on a ‘T’ to support the corner and another brace setup to keep the extension stable.
It appears the fixes were temporary. The lumber is not treated even though it has contact with the ground, and no effort was made to protect the bracing or the column from the weather. The temporary condition was effective because the extension has not collapsed for the two years it has been in place. There is legitimately some question on how long the support will last.
“The cracks are still there, and someone comes by every so often to put stucco over the crack,” Castaneda said. “What it looks like is the owner is waiting for the back of the building to collapse, so he can collect insurance money.”
Castaneda is beside himself that no one is forcing the owner to get the building repaired or torn down. He thinks the insurance company should be alerted.
“It is not livable and should be torn down. I have tenants that go between the buildings. They worry that this thing will fall on them. I spent a lot of money improving my building and making it structurally sound. Code inspectors were over here doing inspections, but they ignored a building right next door that is ready to collapse,” Castaneda said.
According to Castaneda, he has reported the condition, and Key Codes addressed the problem with a temporary fix.
“It’s been two years, and nothing has happened. I’ve mentioned it. I’m not trying to create a problem or upset anyone, but the investment I made in my building and the safety of my tenants is in question,” he said.
The problem was presented to borough council at its meeting June 3.