Repairs underway for Main Street buidlings

By Brian Sweeney
Work is underway to replace the foundations of five adjacent Main Street, Margaretville buildings that were badly damaged by August 28 flooding.

The buildings in need of foundation repairs include the former Main Street Jewelers, Reprise men’s clothing store, the Village Pub, Rocko Mineral and Jewelry and the law office of Carey Wagner. In addition to retail spaces on the ground floor, all of the buildings have apartments on the second and third stories.

Shortly after the historic flood, a gap of several inches was discovered where the building foundations had pulled away from the sidewalk. There was initial speculation among local officials that the entire block of buildings — from the Cheese Barrel to the Suites on Main — would have to be razed due to safety concerns. For several months, this section of Main Street (Route 30) was closed to traffic to minimize vibrations and lower the risk of the buildings collapsing.

Engineering recommendations were solicited from several firms to determine the most appropriate action — to either stabilize or tear down the structures. The engineers offered a variety of opinions at costs ranging to more than $800,000. The building owners eventually settled on a low-cost alternative proposed by engineer Paul Gossen of Denver.

Mr. Gossen designed a system in which layered plywood was strategically installed to provide stability. That setup solidified the buildings until the long-term foundation work, which he also engineered, could be performed.

The foundation project begun this month involves manually preparing the foundation site using picks and shovels and hauling the rocks and dirt out of the basements. Workers are removing about a foot of material. Once the site is prepared, reinforcing bars will be installed and a “grade beam,” of poured concrete will be poured to envelope the existing bluestone foundation. Each wall of the new foundation will be 40 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

The work, which must all be tied together to link each building for uniform support, is being performed by three local contractors, Manny Castillo of Arkville, Norwick Brothers Concrete and Construction of Fleischmanns and On The Level contracting of New York City and Margaretville.
Andes residents Juergen and Lore Mahler own the Margaretville Jewelers and Reprise buildings, Robin Tischmacher of Halcottsville is the owner of the Village Pub and Marylou Pratt and Florence Barra of Fishkill own the buildings that housed Rocko’s and the law office.

Margaretville Jewelers has moved to the Commons building, Reprise will not be reestablished and Rocko was in the process of becoming a home-based business prior to the flood. Mr. Wagner was also planning to move his office to the Gottfried Professional Building before the flood. Mr. Tischmacher told the News he is uncertain what type of business he will locate in his building.
It was ultimately determined that the structural integrity of the Cheese Barrel and Suites on Main buildings had not been compromised.

John Carson, a partner in On The Level, said he brought up some of his crew from the city but most of the work will be performed by local workers.

“The first step in getting the existing foundation stabilized was to install the grade beams,” he explained. “We wanted a pretty big crew to get this done, but once that’s finished the local workers will complete the project by installing the two deeper walls that run parallel to the brook.”
The new foundation will be substantial, he pointed out.

“These buildings sustained significant flood damage. Paul (Gossen) made his design to structurally guard against future flooding. All of the new work in each building will be tied together, making a unified, stable foundation,” Mr. Carson explained.