Liberty Square building repairs starting soon

At 22 N. Main St., a security fence keeps visitors off the sidewalk near Hammerhand Coffee on Liberty’s historic square. Repairs should be complete by the end of the month.

LIBERTY — Repairs to the sidewalk near Hammerhand Coffee on Liberty’s historic downtown square should be complete by next month.

Director of Planning and Development Katherine Sharp said building owner Larry Blosser has been working through his attorney to remediate the situation. Blosser did not return phone calls for a comment.

“I have been working with their attorney to make sure things are moving along,” Sharp said. Contractors have been hired and work should begin by the end of the month.

In the past couple years, bricks have fallen from buildings around the historic Liberty Square. The majority of those bricks have fallen from the parapet near the roof line of Hammerhand Coffee at 22 N. Main St. In early March this year, a chunk fell to the sidewalk below, taking out the air conditioner window unit and the window.

The sidewalk at Main and Franklin streets has been blocked off with security fencing since then.

The contractor scheduled to do the work is MTS Contracting, Sharp said.

As part of repairs, Sharp said the north and east walls of the building will be tuckpointed. When tuckpointing is done properly, it provides a relatively waterproof mortar joint that extends the life of the wall.

There will also be three layers of brick and the decorative banding will be replaced, Sharp said. The window that was broken during the March 7 falling bricks will also be replaced.

As other issues with bricks falling from building and the former Ethan Allen building collapsing in recent years, the city has been doing an external inspection of the aging downtown buildings. The city contracted with Engineering Perspectives Inc. to conduct an exterior visual inspection of the buildings that line the Liberty Square on Main, Kansas, Water and Franklin streets. There are at least 15 building owners around the historic Liberty Square.

The city’s third-party engineering firm did visual inspections in mid- to late-April. The city notified the building owners around the Square about the inspections, which were made from the public rights of way and by a drone.

Jeremy Adams, the city’s chief building official, said he received the report from the Engineering Perspectives.

“The visual inspections turned up 11 areas of concern with two being the parapet collapse,” he said. “The report states that no areas have imminent structural failure.”

Adams said the report has been turned over to the city’s codes enforcement officer as well.

“The repairs are tuckpointing and adhesive repairs,” he said. “Some of the owners have started the repairs.”

Adams said public safety is the city staff’s chief concern.

“There is an online reporting system on the city’s website that people can use if they notice possible problems,” he said. “They can also call City Hall.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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