By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Newcomb Hotel is officially a pile of rubble as crews from Blick's Construction and Niemann General Contracting finished bringing down the building just four days after it was destroyed in a five-alarm fire.
Crews removed barricades to open Fourth and Maine streets to traffic around the building Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Seaver, director of inspection and enforcement, said the Illinois Department of Transportation will install concrete barriers along the edge of the building, while the city will also install six-feet fence around the building to keep people away from the debris. There will be no pedestrian access next to the site.
IDOT wouldn't allow the reopening of Maine Street without the reinstallation of the traffic signal that was removed in order to prevent damage from the demolition. Traffic lights are now operational.
Removal of the debris is not expected to start for about four or five weeks, as the city has to solicit bids for the cleanup.
Seaver said the specifications to remove the debris could be completed by the end of this week and submitted to aldermen to approve the request for proposals.
"I think we could put something together pretty quickly," Seaver said. "I think it's probably desirable to have this taken care of as quickly as possible."
Seaver said the city will have to discuss the site's future, whether it's redeveloped into a building site or parking lot.
"The time we're in there removing material is the also the time to talk about making the site again suitable for redevelopment," he said.
The city has been in contact with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to make sure the building is being properly removed.
"We will probably have to employ an asbestos supervisor as we begin to remove materials under that second phase," Seaver said. "That will all be part of that bid process as we look to get everything out of here."
Costs for the cleanup are expected could run up to $500,000, and the city plans to pay for the costs from its tax increment financing fund, as the building's owner, Victor Horowitz, of Skokie, Ill., did not have insurance on the property.
The city is in the process of foreclosing on the former hotel after Horowitz defaulted on a $500,000 loan he received from the city's Revolving Loan Committee in 2003.
A motion hearing in the case is slated for Monday.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original posting.