A forensic engineer pointed out serious flaws in the remains of the Sands Dorsey building in a photo presentation at Thursday’s City Commission Meeting.
“Normally, it’s a demolition for a building like this,” said Stephen Quintana, associate director of structural engineering for WHPacific of Albuquerque.
WHPacific was selected by the city to present a preliminary engineering study of the building and an engineering contract specifying what it would take to demolish the building.
“Half of the building may not be hospitable for a museum,” Quintana said.
Supporters of saving the Sands Dorsey suggested that portions of the building might be saved because of its historical significance in the city.
Quintana also said, “It would be cost prohibitive to rebuild this building.”
Some downtown retailers have said the building is a hazard and public safety concern and a nuisance because wall supports have blocked an alleyway entrance.
Quintana said he had concerns about the wall of the Sands Dorsey that neighbors the Pajarito Interiors building because it was not known if the walls were joined in some way.
In addition to cracks in the foundation and movement of the walls, seen when comparing photographs taken at different times, Quintana said there may be environmental hazards, including asbestos and toxic chemicals.
Quintana said he understood that some of the firefighters received small blisters on their arms that were not from burns.
The Sands Dorsey at Main and Second streets burned for several days in early June 2007.
An environmental assessment of the building is estimated to cost about $12,000, Quintana said.
Commissioner Jim Witcher asked if it was possible to collapse the building. Quintana said that was not an option because it would be impossible to predict which way the walls might fall and that there might be contaminants released.
If no environmental hazards are found in the building, Quintana estimated it could cost between $350,00 and $500,000 to demolish the building.
Following Quintana’s presentation, the City Commission unanimously agreed to hire WHPacific to present an engineering study for demolition, which is to cost about $68,000.