Report Finds Partially Collapsed North Judson Building Unsafe for Entry

The owner of a partially collapsed building in downtown North Judson will not be able to retrieve his personal property from inside. The 205-207 Lane Street Structural Engineering Report prepared by South Bend-based DLZ found the building to be in “critical condition” overall.

It further recommends it should be demolished as soon as possible and states “access into the structure should be restricted. Moving or shifting of loads within the building should be avoided due to the potentially overloaded and unstable condition of the framing.”

The building partially collapsed last month after heavy rains caused part of the roof to fall in. Town Attorney Justin Schramm filed a complaint in Starke Circuit Court seeking an emergency demolition order.

Special Judge Michael Shurn granted the request but also ordered the structural engineering study be completed to determine whether owner Doug Cassel could safely remove personal property from the building first.

Items inside the building include a 1978 Cadillac El Dorado parked in a garage on the 205 Lane Street side. The structural engineering report states “more than likely the floor was not designed to support a vehicle as the garage at the east end of 205 Lane Street was added after the original construction. It is unclear if the floor was strengthened to support this vehicle. The floor joists are most likely over stressed especially given the amount of moisture observed soaked into the framing.”

Town Superintendent Marshall Hortsman told the council during a special-called Wednesday meeting he’s waiting on a final asbestos report before proceeding with the hiring of a contractor to demolish the building. Hortsman should have that report in hand by tomorrow and will be able to follow up with contractors.

He wants whoever tears the building down to handle all of the IDEM paperwork regarding asbestos. Hortsman adds it’s possible the building can at least be torn down before the Mint Festival. If the rubble isn’t cleared by then, a fence will be placed around the debris for safety.

Meanwhile residents are reminded not to enter the structure due to imminent danger of collapse. The street in front of the building is closed, and several “no trespassing” signs have been placed.