Only bid for cleanup $69,875; owners still have time to begin|[7/18/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

If stabilization of a collapsed downtown building is done by the city it could cost $69,875.

That amount was the base figure for the only bid received for the work, from Riverside Construction of Vicksburg.

The work may also still be done by the building’s owners, Preston and Mary Reuther, who last week were given 30 days to begin.

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The bid was opened at Monday’s meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

&#8220It’s clear we think this building can be stabilized and should be preserved,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said.

The 140-year-old, brick and mason building, the former home of Thomas Furniture, is at 711 and 713 Clay St.

It collapsed Jan. 25 while workers were inside cleaning it. Plans were to renovate it into a shopping mall for antiques.

&#8220The board feels a public responsibility to ensure a safe street,” Leyens said.

City officials said last week that Reuther would be given time to submit plans by the Reuthers’ current contractor, Bentonia-based Antique Wood and Brick Co. of Mississippi.

Riverside’s bid is to protect the buildings and the area from further collapse, company executive Don Miller said after the meeting.

&#8220It’s a complicated process,” Miller said, adding that &#8220tiebacks” and steel anchors would be installed to ensure that the buildings won’t collapse further.

Riverside has arranged to insure itself should it be awarded a contract for the work, Miller added.

The contractor the Reuthers originally chose for the job, Freddie Parson of Vicksburg, was hired the first week of March but said he couldn’t get insurance before a city-imposed deadline.

In April the city hired Texas engineer Patrick Sparks to draw plans for the project. Riverside’s bid will be sent to Sparks for approval in case a contract is awarded based on it, city attorney Nancy Thomas said.

In February the Reuthers asked to have the buildings demolished. That request was rejected by the city’s architectural-review board and board of mayor and aldermen.