DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The back of a building on the main street of downtown Spring Valley collapsed Sunday night. The Spring Valley City Council met in an emergency meeting Monday night to deal with tearing the building down, formerly the Tamarack Cafe, as it was deeemd structurally unsound earlier that day by an engineer. The building to the right is a laundry for the Commercial House Apartments. At the left is Ray’s Hair Care, which abuts the wall of the building.
DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The back of a building on the main street of downtown Spring Valley collapsed Sunday night. The Spring Valley City Council met in an emergency meeting Monday night to deal with tearing the building down, formerly the Tamarack Cafe, as it was deeemd structurally unsound earlier that day by an engineer. The building to the right is a laundry for the Commercial House Apartments. At the left is Ray’s Hair Care, which abuts the wall of the building.
Part of a vacant downtown Spring Valley building collapsed Sunday night, forcing the evacuation of the nearby Commercial House Apartments.

“It’s not a good situation,” said Mayor Jim Struzyk, who called an emergency meeting of the Spring Valley City Council for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20.

The building is the former Tamarack Cafe located on Broadway Avenue. In July 2015, a small portion of the exterior wall collapsed near the rear of the building, forcing Minnesota Energy to shut off the gas and the city to put up fencing around the back of the building to keep people away.

Since then, the building was sold by Jeff Coop to Eugene Poncelet of Pine Island, who had intentions of fixing up the building. However, nothing ever developed and the building has remained in the same state since then. Poncelet hasn’t paid taxes on the building and offered to donate it to the city, Spring Valley economic development director Cathy Enerson told the Economic Development Authority during a meeting last year.

The Spring Valley EDA researched options, but some promising state programs that provided funds for demolition and reuse had no money available. Refurbishing the building is difficult because it is in the flood plain.

Bids for demolition were in the $120,000 to $160,000 range because it has common walls with adjoining buildings. Since that amount wasn’t in the city budget, any action was on hold.

However, Struzyk said he received a call Sunday about 10 p.m. when an extensive portion of the wall collapsed. City crews barricaded Broadway Avenue in front of the building due to possible instability stretching into the remaining portion of the structure.

Minnesota Energy shut off gas service to the Commercial House and the city put up tenants in a local hotel Sunday night.

An engineering company was expected to assess the stability of the remaining portion of the building Monday before the emergency meeting. The city was looking at shoring up the building before any potential demolition.

Also, Struzyk had a meeting scheduled Monday with Jeff Allman, owner of the Commercial House, who has expressed interest in rehabbing the building.

Allman was able to convert an 1875 downtown dilapidated building into the Commercial House Apartments with townhouse style units on the second floor. The building was in disrepair before he took the project on, but he also had help with grants due to the historic nature of the building.

The building owned by Poncelet also has some historic value, but there aren’t as many funding sources today to help with projects like this. He had inquired with the EDA about assistance, but not made a formal request.

Struzyk is afraid they will have to take the building down, which would leave an empty spot in the middle of Spring Valley’s downtown.

“That isn’t good,” he said.

The emergency council meeting was held after this edition of the Tribune went to press. Look for more details in next week’s edition.