When the scaffolding went up at 42 E. Washington St., so did the hopes of many of its neighbors. Would one of the city's oldest buildings, erected in 1880, finally get some love after years of neglect? Might the Antonopoulos family, which has owned the building since the late 1970s, join with its neighboring property owners in sprucing up a blighted stretch of downtown's main street? The answer: No. Instead, workers are removing the wood panels (painted to resemble brick) that covered the windows and replacing them with concrete block. Dino Antonopoulos says the family has no immediate plans for a renovation of the building, but he wanted to seal the windows to keep out moisture after a few bricks fell from the façade. He plans to cover the blocks—and the rest of the brick façade—with plaster. Smaller window holes would be cut as part of an eventual renovation. The building's upper floors are unusable in the current state, but the first floor is home to a jewelry shop. Property Lines is a strong supporter of property rights and bristles at knee-jerk NIMBYism. But if you abuse your child, the law says you lose your child. It's time for the city—or someone who cares about the city—to intervene. Antonopoulos says he'd be willing to sell the building but would not name his price. Whatever it is, the price of keeping him as a downtown property owner seems higher.
UPDATE: The city just posted a stop-work order. The building owner did not file for the required Regional Center Approval for changes to the façade or window openings. The Department of Metropolitan Development had given the building owner permission to repair the upper part of the façade because of safety concerns about falling brick. "We suggest all concrete block be removed ASAP and that you only do what was approved in the permit," Senior Planner Jeff York wrote in an e-mail to Antonopoulos.
(Staff photos / Cory Schouten)