Hearing set for Kilby demolition

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 03:44 PM

City officials say they plan to seek the approval of a historic preservation agency to demolish a crumbling 103-year-old structure that some believe may be moving ever closer to falling down on its own.
A hearing is scheduled before the Guilford County Historic Preservation Commission on Nov. 19 for the city to make its case that the former Kilby Hotel property at 625 E. Washington St. is unsafe and needs to be torn down.
The Kilby was granted historic status in 1982, which provided the property owner with potential tax-exempt privileges as long as certain requirements were met. One condition is that no alterations to the building — including tearing it down — can be made without approval of the commission.
Last week, the city closed a portion of Washington Street near the site after residents reported hearing glass breaking and cracking noises emanating from the structure.
“There’s been some talk things have gotten worse. That’s hard to put a finger on that, because we’ve already determined the building to be unsafe,” said Ed Brown, inspection administrator for the city of High Point.
The property was a key part of High Point’s black business and entertainment community during the early- to mid-20th century, but its condition has worsened since it closed for business some time ago.
About 10 months ago, its roof collapsed and fell through to the ground floor. Officials said they are concerned that the three-story structure could implode or fall outward into the street.
The City Council has ordered the property repaired or demolished. The Kilby’s owners want to save it and are trying to raise the $175,000 to $300,000 needed to shore up the walls and clean out the interior.
They are running out of time, however, since the deadline the city gave them to make repairs or demolish the building is Monday.
The property owners maintain that a structural engineer they hired to evaluate the site found its walls to be in good condition and not in danger of collapse.
Brown said the city has gone through a lengthy process to document what he terms its unsafe condition.
“We’ve already had two engineers say that unless the building gets shored up, it could come down at any time,” he said. “There’s so much debris, nobody will be able to tell positively a date and a time when it’s going to come down.”
pkimbrough@hpe.com | 888-3531