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Report details state of McCrory’s

Engineer finds steel, masonry in decent shape; wood is not

An engineer hired by the city has found that the masonry and steel structural members in the former McCrory’s building on 11th Avenue are in decent shape, but that the wood members — including structural elements — are not, due to damage from a leaky roof.

The foundation stone and brick, the first floor steel columns, beams and precast panels, the multi-course brickwork of the other outside walls, the first floor terrazzo resting on concrete joists supported by steel beams resting on steel columns and the steel beams on columns on the upper two floors are all in “fair to good condition,” according to the report from Diviney & Associates Structural Engineers of Hollidaysburg.

But much of the wood floor joists and flooring on the second and third floors and the wood rafters and plywood of the roof are “super-saturated” and deteriorating, so that “much, if not all, of the wood material should be removed,” the firm states.

The findings are “actually better than I thought,” City Manager Omar Strohm said at a meeting this week.

The report helps confirm that the building is salvageable, which some officials had doubted not many months ago.

It also helps confirm that “the clock is ticking” to find a developer with the wherewithal to renovate it, according to Councilman Dave Butterbaugh.

City Council has discussed the possibility of taking the property by eminent domain, because of its deterioration under the ownership of McCrory’s LLC of New York City since 2013 — despite an order to repair or demolish in 2015, followed by acquisition of a permit to fix the roof.

“If they’re not willing or able to fix it, they need to do something before it’s too late — or we, the city, needs to do something,” Butterbaugh said.

There are other parties interested, he said.

Brokering a deal between the owner and an entity with the will and means to renovate would be preferable to eminent domain, he said.

The roof is nominally flat, with enough slope to send water to roof drains, but the membrane that covers the roof has deteriorated, and has let water through for a long time, according to the report.

During the engineering firm’s first inspection, there was 4 feet of water in the basement, although that has been mostly pumped out.

There was water ponding on all the floors, according to the report.

Some of the wood joists on the second and third floors and some of the rafters might be salvageable, according to the report.

But replacing all the floor joists with “engineered” I-shaped wood beams might be called for, depending on future uses for those upper floors, the report states.

Some of the findings in the report are less definitive than they might otherwise be, because of observational limitations due to the remaining foot of water in the basement, finishes remaining on the walls and ceilings and the dangers of walking on the roof and in other areas, the report said.

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