Building Collapse

Brunswick police and firefighters survey a building in the 2400 block of Reynolds Street after it partially collapsed July 23, 2018. No one was injured.

Brunswick Municipal Court Judge Christopher O’Donnell on Wednesday issued a demolition order for a partially collapsed building on Reynolds Street.

The order paves the way for the city’s public works department to tear the building down at 2400 Reynolds St. after a 10-day period. Work is likely to begin after Labor Day, said Bren Daiss, the city’s planning and codes director.

The former school building partially caved in on itself July 23 and has been cordoned off since. No one was injured in the collapse.

City Attorney Brian Corry called the building a “serious hazard,” and noted the cost of repairing it and bringing it up to city code would be prohibitive.

The 25,000-square-foot brick structure was once a school. It was later used as a temporary library and in its final days of usage was a community center that offered day care, adult education classes and other nonprofit initiatives.

ARCO Community Coalition is the last registered owner of the building, but that nonprofit group was dissolved by the Georgia Secretary of State in 2015. The last time the nonprofit filed annual registration with the state was 2012. At the time, the Rev. Dee Shaffer, now interim rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jesup, was the nonprofit’s CEO.

Shaffer attended Monday’s hearing and said she has been unable to reach other former members of the coalition’s board. Shaffer ended her association with the nonprofit in 2009, she said.

Any responsible party has 10 days from O’Donnell’s order to contact the city about the building.

It will be up to the city to shoulder the cost of demolishing the building, which officials said would likely cost around $50,000. City public works crews will use heavy equipment to tear the building down, but the city will have to pay to have the building materials hauled away.

“We are saving some money by using public works,” Daiss said.

City Planner John Hunter said it’s possible the tract of land, once cleared, could be deeded to the Brunswick-Glynn Land Bank Authority to be sold back into the market.

Other similar tracts of land in Brunswick have been or are being developed into multi-family housing developments. Norwich Commons, now an income-sensitive housing complex, was once the site of a school.

Likewise, a developer is seeking to turn the old Perry school site — today an open field on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — into a multi-family housing tract.

This is not the first time the city has obtained a court order for 2400 Reynolds St.

In 2014, a judge granted the city permission to board up the building’s windows and entrances and cut down several dead and dangerous trees.

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