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Study of Arcade Building to continue following fire

Thanks to the work of area firefighters, the iconic Arcade Building was not severely damaged following a fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon and spread to an adjoining structure.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, a fire lit up a section of Main Street’s historic corridor near the railroad viaduct. Jamestown firefighters battled the blaze at a structure south of the Arcade Building for several hours, climbing onto the railroad viaduct to prevent further fire damage into the Arcade Building.

Jamestown police and fire officials both indicated the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“I want to congratulate the fire department on their excellent work,” said Gregory Edwards, Gebbie Foundation chief executive officer. “They saved what could have been a catastrophe with other structures at risk and saved the Arcade Building because they did their job so well.”

Due to the quick work of the fire departments, Edwards said the Gebbie Foundation, along with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, will continue to move forward with plans to hire an engineering firm to analyze what should be done with the vacant Arcade Building and the former Holmlunds Wallpaper & Paint store.

“The analysis now has a more significant emergency nature to it. We want to determine the impact to the Arcade Building,” Edwards said. “I spoke to the firm hired to do the analysis and they are proceeding with an advanced time frame to do it. What that is going to do is it will give us a professional plan of action on how to deal with what remains after the fire.”

Edwards said from the analysis, the Foundation wants to determine three potential outcomes for the vacant buildings. The first possible outcome involves demolishing the buildings. The second outcome would be preserving the structures and finding out the cost to do so. The third outcome would involve restoring the buildings to be viable structures for commercial use.

“This is a very narrow analysis to physically examine the structures to determine (whether) they are salvageable and if not, what are the costs (for demolition); can they be enclosed and preserved so they don’t further deteriorate and what are the costs to do that; and what it would cost to make them useable again,” Edwards said.

Edwards said once the Foundation has the analysis on what to do with the buildings, they’re hoping to receive funding through the Consolidated Funding Application as part of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council program to pursue the best option for the vacant buildings.

“For far too long we haven’t known and could not formulate a plan,” Edwards said. “That is why this has been an interest to us to have this first stage analysis done so we have the means to know what our options are.”

Prior to the fire, the two-story building was also going to be a part of the study. However, according to Vince DeJoy, city development director, the building now needs to be demolished.

“We will be pursuing a demolition course, not for the entire structure, but the two-story building,” DeJoy said. “We’re giving the owner the opportunity to get in touch with us to tell us what course he is looking to take, and if there isn”t any action taken, we will take the owner to court and pursue a court order for demolition.

“It is not a building to be safe-standing for a long period of time,” he continued. “Weather and other circumstances could make it vulnerable. It definitely needs to be demolished. The costs to renovate it would far exceed what is reasonable to renovate it.”

Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the building that caught fire Wednesday was not considered to be part of the Arcade Building. He said more than 100 years ago it was considered part of the Arcade Building, but it separated long ago.

Teresi said the building is owned by Thomas Bailey of Jamestown, who also owns the former Stearns Building along Main Street where an emergency demolition occurred in January following a partial roof collapse. In February, DeJoy estimated the cost of the controlled demolition to be around $80,000 for the Stearns Building.

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