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Building's age contributed to structural failure

Date: 9/1/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE -- With a city with a building stock as old as Holyoke's, the structural failure at 415-459 Main St. shouldn't come as a surprise, Mayor Michael Sullivan said.

Sullivan told Reminder Publications that several other century-old buildings have had problems such as a High Street building in 2007 after a rainstorm and another structure in 2004 where a gas pipe failure occurred.

"I don't think anyone could have predicted this," Sullivan said.

The Main Street building, which housed a furniture store on the first floor and 12 apartments in the upper floors, was built in 1905.

Residents were evacuated from the apartment building on Aug. 23 when the center column failed, Sullivan said. Of the 50 displaced people, 31 are currently living in a hotel paid for by Puerta De La Esperanza Limited, the owners of the building and Sullivan said a temporary support system was being installed so people could go back into the building to retrieve their belongings.

Tighe & Bond has been hired to examine the how to renew the structural integrity of the building, he said.

When asked if additional building inspections could prevent future problems, Sullivan said, "I don't think additional building inspections could provide any greater security."

The problems were not ones that were visible. "It was not a structural deficit to the naked eye," he said. "What's on behind walls and moldings is hard to say."

Sullivan said there had been nearly a $2 million investment in the building through tax credits in 2002.