City orders demolition

Main Street Jewelers to be torn down
Main Street Jewelers to be torn down

News Staff Writer

Old jewelry store on Main coming down

Although such action is not an official part of the city’s ongoing revitalization effort, Atmore officials have ordered the demolition of two decaying downtown buildings — one on Main Street, the other a block west on Trammell Street — because they represent potential detriments to public safety.
Yellow crime scene tape and orange traffic cones have been placed along the sidewalk in front of each building — the former sites of Main Street Jewelers and Doc’s Taxi Service/Doc’s Café — to lessen the chance that a passerby might be injured by falling or fallen debris.
“We roped them off for safety reasons,” said Mayor Jim Staff. “On the jewelry store building, the canopy is rotten and it’s pulling away from the wall. Pieces of wood and brick are dropping off the one on Trammell Street.”
Staff said letters have been sent to the property owners — Greg and Elizabeth Colbert, who hold title to the former jewelry store, and Randy Nichols, who owns the shell of a building where the cab service-café once stood — demanding that demolition proceedings begin within 14 days of the date the respective letters were issued.
“We’ve notified the owners of both buildings that they have a choice, take them down or the city will,” Staff said. “They’re both unsafe, and they’re both eyesores. The 14 days will be up (August 29) on the Trammell Street building; we just sent the letter out last week on the other one.”
The Main Street building was originally the home of First National Bank, and a construction company, dentist and church each reportedly leased space in the upstairs portion. The Trammell Street structure was home to the taxi service and a restaurant that, according to the mayor, “used to have some good cheeseburgers.”
Staff said the problems with the former bank and jewelry store building are most evident, since the structure is located at the corner of South Main and Nashville streets, in the heart of downtown. The former taxi service structure had escaped the scrutiny of city inspectors because it is less visible.
“They’ve been that way for a while,” he explained. “The one on Main Street is visible to anybody that drives by. Somebody called our attention to the one on Trammel Street, and we inspected it. We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was that bad.”
The mayor pointed out that demolition of the South Main building will be the most expensive and most disrupting of the two, noting that portions of East Nashville and South Main streets would have to be closed while the structure is disassembled.
He noted that both buildings are in such a state of disrepair and such potential safety hazards that razing them is the only viable solution to the problem.
“It would cost more to repair them than it would to tear them down,” he said. “They’re both dangerous situations, and something has to be done about them.”

News photo by Don Fletcher