The Dryer Building on Front Street, condemned by the city and doomed for demolition, has received a reprieve, at least until after the holidays.
Robert Paullus, the structural engineer who in August said the building at 912 Front St. was "in imminent danger of collapse," has installed crack monitors and will be watching for new movement.
In a Nov. 21 letter to building owners Randy and Laura Dryer that the Dryers sent to members of the Conway City Council, Paullus said "...the probability that the structure may collapse, under its own weight, without additional outside influence, is not as great as was indicated when recent building movement was thought to exist."
Five crack gauges were installed Nov. 17, and Paullus said widening of cracks by more than two millimeters should be immediately reported to the City and to himself for analysis. He said gauges should be monitored weekly.
Paullus still recommends that the leaning building be demolished, but a request from the owners to wait until after the holiday season "does not appear to be unreasonable."
The engineer made recommendations for safety until the building can be demolished "in a controlled effort."
"Completion of the full bracing of the building is recommended as soon as feasible so the building is fully braced for demolition as soon as the New Year holiday is over," Paullus wrote.
In a Nov. 14 letter to the City Council, the Dryers wrote that a contractor to shore up and later demolish the building had been hired. At that time they were awaiting a report from an asbestos inspector.
Currently the building’s windows are lighted and have a seasonal display.
The Downtown Pentecostals, owners of the adjacent building at 910 Front St., have asked to reoccupy their building, and the fence that once blocked the church’s front door has been removed.
Paullus wrote that shoring the south wall will not guarantee that the church building roof will not collapse should the north wall of the Dryer Building structure fail.
"Therefore, those who enter the church building should be aware that they do so at their own risk," Paullus wrote.
Concern about the leaning wall in Downtown Conway intensified following the collapse of two 100-year-old buildings in Morrilton’s downtown on May 16 that killed 2-year-old Alissa Jones and seriously injured her mother, Erin Coffman.
Clean-up of the Morrilton debris began Nov. 21, delayed until the buildings’ owners and the city decided how the cleanup would be completed.
Officials haven’t determined what caused the buildings to come down.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)