Conway officials have lifted a condemnation order and lien on downtown Conway’s Dryer building at 912 Front Street.
The building came to the attention of city hall in 2009, when it was noticed to be leaning to the north. Since then various plans have been considered by the city and the building’s owners, Randy and Laura Dryer, including various methods of shoring up the north wall.
However, after a year’s study by structural engineer Robert Paullus of Paullus Structural consultants in which cracks in the building were periodically measured and monitored, the building is reported to be stable in its current state.
Laura Dryer, who owns the building along with her husband Randy, said that the property is still for sale.
The building has been the subject of attention since city officials noticed a lean in its north wall and, fearing pedestrian injury from a collapse or falling debris, set up a fence around the building’s street frontage in 2009. The building was condemned in 2011 in light of the collapse of a downtown building in Morrilton which killed a child and injured eight. Over the next few months the building had "stays of execution" while further studies were done.
Now, the city is satisfied that the building, which leans out 18 inches from plumb at its roof, isn’t a safety hazard.
"There was a desire by a lot of people to preserve the building," Jack Bell, the city’s chief of staff, said. "It had some issues, and it turns out that the issues weren’t as bad as we first feared . . . "It’s still got some cracks in it, and it needs some work, but we’ve found that if we ever lose a building downtown it’s hard to get it back. There’s a lot of desire by people downtown to preserve our buildings, and I feel like we can save this one."
The building’s salvation would come by a private investment. Laura Dryer said on Wednesday that she hoped news of the buildings structural soundness would be as widely broadcast as the concerns about it.
Also, it seems that no one involved in the Dryer Building issue can say for sure when the lean developed. Bell said that he’d been told by one informed source that it may even have been built that way.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)