Allen Bell, the developer of Eagle View Apartments and other luxury developments in and out of West Virginia, is tearing down a Dickinson Street structure he bought last year.
AB Contracting’s director of marketing, Brittany Allen, did not return phone calls and emails Wednesday. AB Contracting is a Bell company. A demolition contractor on the scene knew Bell owned the building but did not know what plans called for.
The Kanawha County Public Library sold the building, at 210 Dickinson, to Bell last fall for $325,000. At the time, Allen said the company was not sure what it wanted to do with the property, an old, nondescript structure that had served as a dress shop and a television studio in the past.
An obvious choice would be nearby parking for the 67-unit, 17-story complex, which Bell purchased for $4.5 million in April of last year. He plans to rent the spaces as apartments.
The complex, however, possesses a parking garage. About 25 years ago, in June 1996, the structure collapsed, killing one man and injuring another.
An online Occupational Safety and Health Administration report says two employees were part of a crew installing a floor panel on the fifth level of the garage. A floor panel on the sixth level gave way, the report says, causing each level below it to collapse, “until they all landed on the ground level ... . Subsequent investigation showed the column adjacent to the panel that fell was approximately 5 [inches] out of plumb.”
Tearing down the former library property — probably purchased when the pre-1967 Kanawha County Library stood where the bank building does now — would provide a certain number of parking spaces, but many more exist at Deno Stanley’s lot. Stanley’s lot is at the corner of Dickinson and Lee, directly across from the bank building, and serves State Tax Department workers. The building being torn down is next to the Stanley lot.
“I have no wants or needs or thoughts about selling,” Stanley told the Gazette-Mail last fall. “No one’s approached me, and we don’t have any plans to sell.”
An attempt to reach Stanley Wednesday was unsuccessful.
Last fall, Allen said the project was moving along, with a waiting list of tenants and plans for a bank on the first two floors and posh touches, such as a gym, movie theater and fire pits perched atop the parking garage. She predicted a spring opening.
The building’s destruction prompted a flurry of social media activity.
“I have to ask ... what’s going to be built on that site?” one user asked.
Another said, “A lot of history in that building,” mentioning the decades-ago presence of a dry cleaner, WSAZ-TV, Annette’s Dress Shop and an insurance firm, among other tenants.