Repairs Due in Springtime: Burned building appears on the mend

Almost 10 months have passed since the three-story commercial building at 1201 Park St. caught fire on March 26, 2013. Other than boarding up the windows — the owner has yet to make any repairs. Business owners on Park Street are questioning when the deteriorating structure will see new life.

“I think it’s an eyesore for Park Street business owners and shoppers,” said Laurie Sargentini, who owns Aphrodite’s Closet. Sargentini was leasing ground-floor space in the 1908 building at Park Street and San Jose Avenue when its top floor burned. Flames spared Sargentini’s inventory, but it did suffer water and smoke damage. She questions safety at her now-abandoned former shopfront. She said that mold is growing inside the building. She believes that the mold is a bio-hazard and that the owner is doing nothing about it.

Julie Siemens Baron, who owns Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden, just down Park Street, said that she believes that the weather can play a role in how the building might continue to deteriorate. “I’m concerned about the rains coming, and what could happen to the building. Mold can set in. (This is) dangerous for pedestrians,” she said.

Sargentini said that broken windows remain in disrepair. She said that the owner has just covered them with plywood. In addition, pieces of wood have been falling off the roof onto the sidewalk; something that she said puts those visiting Park Street in danger.

Realtor Joe Snell at Gallagher & Lindsey that manages the property said the owners are really good people. He said that they have been working on getting permit approvals from the city and on getting their insurance company to move forward with refurbishing the building.

“We are shooting to start construction at the end of March or beginning of April,” said Snell. He called the building “historic,” and said that as a result, “you are going to have some delay.” 
Alex Nguyen, assistant city manager, said that the property owners did receive a permit last March to repair the gable, but they haven’t made any repairs yet. “We are about to send them a notice to encourage them to complete the repairs,” Nguyen said.

The Alameda Sun reported that a fire broke out on the upper level of the building, and dispatch sent the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) to the scene around 2:37 a.m. It was one of four fires that firefighters faced that day. (“Fires keep AFD, APD Busy,” March 28, 2013).

When asked about the current situation at the building, AFD Capt. Jim Colburn said that he didn’t have any information about repairs. It’s up to the owners now to decide when repairs will start, he said.

Sargentini believes that time is of the essence. “We are trying to build up this area,” she said. “But not having this building repaired affects not only businesses, but also people.”

“Look at the street. It’s time to take care of it,” Siemens Baron said.