UPDATE: Newcomb Hotel will be 'a pile of rubble' by Sunday

Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning, left, and Mayor Kyle Moore speak at a Saturday morning press conference about the Newcomb Hotel fire. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Sep. 7, 2013 10:44 am Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 5:15 pm
Remnants of the Newcomb Hotel after Friday night's fire. (H-W Photo/Don O'Brien)

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Newcomb Hotel should be no more than "a pile of rubble" by Sunday evening.

Two area contractors will tag-team the demolition.

Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development, said the lateral support to the building is gone and it needs to come down.

"The issue here now is public safety, as well as the state highway and trying to open the road to the public and the adjacent property owners, who plan to open business Monday if they can," he said.

Blick's Construction is expected to start demolition at 6 a.m. with the goal to have the building on the ground by Sunday evening.

"It's a daunting task, but that's what he says he thinks he can do if he gets at it and starts at it," Bevelheimer said.

Niemann General Contracting will also be helping working on the back side of the building.

Bevelheimer said it is expected to cost around $500 to $600 an hour.

"The goal is to try to get this building on the ground," he said. "We can go through a bidding process (for removal) once we get it on the ground."

Materials will remain on the site pending notification of the Environmental Protection Agency for approval for the removal of the matierials.

The Quincy Fire Department will be on scene spraying the building in order to keep dust down during the demolition.

Blick's was setting its equipment up late Saturday afternoon in anticipation for demolition on Fourth Street.

The city's inspections staff was tasked Saturday morning with finding a demolition contractor to stabilize the building and openimg surrounding streets.

Quincy fire crews remained on the scene Saturday, spraying water on hot spots on both the north and south sides of the structure. The roof and the top two floors of the five-story building collapsed, and debris remained scattered all around the structure.

After a mid-morning meeting with city department heads, Mayor Kyle Moore said the top priority is to get a demolition contractor at the site as soon as possible.

"We're working on getting somebody here as soon as possible to knock down the fifth and fourth floor of that building, just to make sure it is structurally safe that we can open Fourth Street again," he said.

Fourth Street remains closed between York and Hampshire, with northbound traffic being diverted onto Eighth. Motorists entering Quincy from the Memorial Bridge are being sent southbound on Ill. 57. Maine Street also was closed from Third to Fifth Street.

Moore said he has had no direct contact with the building's owner, Skokie developer Victor Horowitz, and the city is trying to determine if Horowitz had the property insured.

"If not, it will be the city that has to pay for (demolition and cleanup)," Moore said, adding the city would likely put a lien on the property. "First and foremost, our concentration is just getting a contractor on scene that way we can make sure the area is safe."

Central Services crews assembled construction fencing to keep bystanders from entering the scene Saturday morning.

The fire was discovered by a passing motorist at about 8:40 p.m. Friday. Firefighters initially entered the building to extinguish a fire on the second floor on the west side of the former hotel, which opened in March 1888. However, they were unable to contain the blaze. At 9 p.m. firefighters were battling heavy flames in the three-story addition on the east side that partially collapsed during an April storm. Eventually flames overtook the main building.

Quincy firefighters brought in two aerial trucks to battle the fire as more of the building collapsed.

Residents of the Lincoln-Douglas apartments across the intersection from the Newcomb were evacuated Friday night when fire officials were concerned about smoke and sparks blowing toward the building. Officials said those residents began returning to their apartments at about 6 a.m. Saturday.

The roof of the Newcomb Hotel is gone. Here's a view from the northwest corner of the building. (H-W Photo/Don O'Brien)


A look at Newcomb Hotel from the patio of Fitz's on Fourth. (H-W Photo/Matt Hopf)


View of the Newcomb Hotel from the top of the Lincoln-Douglas apartment building. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)


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