Caro city workers have barricaded a sidewalk along West Lincoln Street after bricks on a building’s wall appear to have plummeted about 25 feet from beneath its roof onto the sidewalk below.
“One of our police officers noticed that a brick was on the ground around 7 or 7:30 a.m. (Feb. 4), and they notified me,” said Michael Silverman, Caro city manager, about the situation on the south side of the building at 201 N. State St. (M-81) in Caro.
The two-story building sits at the corner of M-81 and West Lincoln Street. No business appears to operate in the lower level of the building.
“Our Department of Public Works crew got out there very quickly to mark it off to make sure nobody was hurt by any of the material falling off, and the owner of the building has been notified as well,” Silverman said. “It’s a private building, so he will be addressing it shortly.”
A Tuscola County treasurer’s office employee said property taxes on the building are paid by William B. Sey of Jackson.
About 25 yards of the sidewalk was blocked from use by pedestrians on Monday afternoon.
Several bricks were visible on the sidewalk behind the barricade one day last week, though no bricks were spotted Monday.
“The safety of the citizens is our primary concern,” said Silverman, adding he doesn’t know the age of the building.
Randall Heckroth, Caro’s code enforcement officer, said “I did send the owner a blight notice for the deteriorating structure.”
Sey believes the issue occurred due to high winds and a significant change in temperatures in recent weeks.
“We’re working to resolve it,” Sey said. “I was in Caro on Friday and we had heavy winds, so nobody was going to go up on the roof. I’m working with the city and – as soon as the weather cooperates – I or my mason will get up there and evaluate it, and check that out to make it safer. I told them to leave those barricades up until we make sure that is taken care of.”
The building was constructed in the late 1800s and housed a drug store in its early years, according to Sey.
“I’ve been working the last couple years on re-tuck-pointing parts of the building,” Sey said. “It’s been one of our priorities to get the façade restored, and restore the building.”
Sey said that in the building’s early days, it housed a Wells Fargo bank branch with an entrance along West Lincoln Street. “So you have the original safe that was from the Wells Fargo days when they were in town,” Sey said.
Falling bricks on aging buildings have caused issues in several Thumb-area communities. In 2017, leaders in Clifford in Lapeer County and in Marlette in Sanilac County reported problems with falling bricks on commercial buildings in those communities.
In April of 2017 in Marlette, a layer of bricks fell from the upper ledge of a two-story building on Main Street onto the sidewalk below, according to Marlette city officials.
Corey Schmidt, then Marlette city manager, said, “It’s pretty lucky that there were no injuries or damage.”
About eight residents of multiple second-floor rental units moved out of their residences after Sanilac County Building Dept. officials determined the building’s owner had to find a structural engineer to inspect the building and issue a report to the county department.
Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.