Alexandria officials barricade street around building for safety

Rebecca R. Bibbs | The Herald BulletinBarricades have been placed on Church Street in Alexandria after a board covering a second-floor window blew off this building at 201 N. Harrison St.

ALEXANDRIA — An area around a historical building at 201 N. Harrison St. has been blocked off after a sheet of board blew off a window of the abandoned second floor.

“We are very thankful that no one was injured,” Mayor Ron Richardson said Monday. “We feel like for the safety of the citizens, we have to keep that blocked off.”

It’s the second time in a year the condition of a building has disrupted the flow of traffic on Alexandria’s streets. A historic building at 102 N. Harrison St. was razed in October after it started to collapse.

The barricades next to the building, most recently known as Junktion, were put in place June 13 on the Church Street side.

City officials have made contact with Tony Johnson, owner of the building, who Richardson said he believes does live somewhere in Madison County.

Johnson could not be reached for comment.

“He made a commitment to take care of some things over the weekend. We haven’t seen a whole lot of progress,” Richardson said. “We want to try to work with him and everyone in the community.”

One concern residents have expressed for the older buildings, many of which are in disrepair, is the loss of history and possible attractions for tourists.

“The city, as many people in our community, have a passion to save as much of our history as possible. But this becomes very hard to do when the owners are not willing to sit down with the city and talk about it,” Richardson said.

Maintenance of abandoned buildings and properties is a perennial problem, especially as spring rolls around, he said. This spring, Richardson said, has been especially busy for the city as officials try to keep property owners in ordinance compliance.

“Even if the buildings are not in operation, they still need to be maintained. That’s really what we’re asking of this owner and every owner in the city,” he said. “It helps the durability and longevity of their buildings, and it helps with the curb appeal of our community.”