City seeks solution for dilapidated warehouse

By Samantha Lyles
Staff Writer

The Tyner Warehouse, located at the Corner of Russell Street and Broad Street in Darlington, has surely seen better days, and city officials are in the midst of efforts to compel its owners to either make repairs or arrange for demolition.

Estimated at around 100 years old, the former tobacco warehouse is between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet large. It has been divided and repurposed to house several different businesses over the years, ranging from flower shops and beauty salons to taxi cab stands and television stores. From time to time, businesses such as H&S Furnishings have rented portions of the Tyner Warehouse for extra storage. But despite its continued usage as a rental property, the building’s condition steadily declined to the point where exterior walls rotted and collapsed and the city had to condemn it as unsafe for occupancy.
“There’s been structural issues there for years,” said Alex Gainey, City of Darlington Building Inspector.

Gainey says the heavy timber building has multiple roof leaks, and water damage has caused the 12 by 12 roof beams to start rotting away.

“You also have support columns where the floor has rotted out around them due to the leaks and all the water getting into the building over the years,” says Gainey. “Structurally, for the most part, it is not sound.”

A previous city building inspector, Mike Cavanaugh, made efforts to discuss solutions and courses of action with the building’s owners, siblings Jamie Tyner and Lynn Gehrke.

“I think that the building was condemned four to five years ago, and it’s been an ongoing battle since then,” said Gainey, recounting that citations were written to the owners and they were issued orders by the city’s former municipal judge Dan Causey.

“Some orders were issued, but they really weren’t followed up on and it sort of fell through the cracks. I came here in September of 2016, and it came to my attention that this piece of property needed to come down,” says Gainey.

The city picked up its discussions with Tyner and Gehrke, and despite early indications that they were amenable to demolishing the dilapidated property, negotiations soon stalled. Gainey says the owners have pursued efforts to sell the property to Genesis HealthCare, but such a sale has not yet taken shape and the warehouse still sits there, rotting and condemned, posing an eyesore and a potential hazard to anyone who enters.

Gainey says that in January of 2018, the city resumed efforts to secure court orders from current municipal judge Robert Stucks, which – after a couple of continuances – resulted in an April order for the owners to pay $150 per day until the building is either brought up to code or demolished. Gainey says the owners have not paid the fines and have made no arrangements to repair or tear down the warehouse.
Efforts are now being made to serve court summons papers to Tyner and Gehrke and get them back into court to discuss the matter with the judge. Gainey says he is not optimistic that the owners will take the necessary action, and he hopes that Judge Stucks will help push the matter out of limbo and toward a resolution.

“I would say that by now, it’s about $20,000 to $25,000 that they owe the city (in fines), and I want the judge to give the city authorization to go ahead and tear the building down,” says Gainey. “I’ve talked to the city manager (Howard Garland) to be sure that if the judge gives us that authorization, that the city would step forward with the project and tear it down, and he’s told me that we would.”

Gainey says the demolition would not be very expensive, but the safe removal of asbestos-containing materials (flooring, shingles, etc.) could cost the city $50,000 to $70,000.

For now, a court date of August 29th looms for the Tyner Warehouse issue, and city officials are hoping that the property owners and the judge can come to some kind of arrangement and finally bring this contentious matter to a close.

Author: Rachel Howell

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