So Much For Not Having to Look at a Burned-Out Building For Months
Photos by Daniel Rodrigue
I've been trying for several days to reach Jon duPerier, the owner of the burned-out block of Greenville Avenue that was once home to, among others, Terilli's and Greenville Bar and Grill. No luck. I've also left several messages for attorney Robert Miller, who's defending duPerier in that liability lawsuit brought by GBG and Hurricane Grill owner Gregg Merkow last month. Miller filed a response three weeks ago, which reads, in short: duPerier did nothing wrong, so there. But according to Miller's assistant, he's been unavailable for comment for the last several days. I've also tried, repeatedly, to reach Jeannie Terilli. And, Merkow.
Even my 6-year-old is dumbstruck by the state of the charred remnants, which look today as they did moments after firefighters put out the blaze on the morning of March 2. "It's like an exhibit in a museum," he said the other day, after we finished up lunch at the Blue Goose. He couldn't believe the saltshakers were still on the tables. The couple that tried to squeeze past us on the remaining sliver of sidewalk couldn't believe "someone hasn't shoveled that shit out of there by now." (Hey, lady, there's a 6-year-old present!)
It's been more than two months since Angela Hunt wrote that the city would "be expediting permits" for a pronto rehab. She wrote in early March that "the reconstruction also means that we won't be looking at a burned out building for months." But that was before the lawsuit. And before Hunt went on maternity leave. Hunt tells Unfair Park she expects to return to council meetings next week, at which point she hopes to schedule a visit with duPerier about what's up.
Neighborhood residents and nearby business owners all say the same thing: All they've heard are rumors. Since the lawsuit, that's it. Just rumors. If that. Then, they just shrug: Whatever.
I did, however, just talk to Kevin Duke at KAD Solutions, among the myriad names and companies whose banners decorate the chain-link fence.
The back of the building
Says Duke, yes, duPerier is still planning on rebuilding and using the original exterior facade, which is being held up by supports at the moment. But it's been slow-going for a number of reasons.
"Unfortunately," he says, "the clients that were in the actual building -- Terilli's, Mick's and so forth -- those guys had done some work that wasn't permitted over the years by the city, so now that we're rebuilding we have to get re-permitted." There are also issues, he says, with making sure they have the proper number of parking spaces required by the city given the building's square footage.
"Any time you say, 'We're expediting it though the city,' it's always a fun, long journey," Duke says. "We're in a holding pattern. And I think there are some other issues between the tenants and the owner they're trying to get hashed out" -- meaning, of course, the lawsuit.
As for when they expect to clean out the building, that's still up in the air: "We're not releasing anyone on the demo clean-up until we can move forward with the designs we have so far," he says. And that's in the city's court at present.
Update at 3:14 p.m.: I just spoke with John Hamilton, namesake of Hamilton Wolf, who says that "insurance and legal stuff" have held up debris removal, not to mention redo. Which means that while there was a "time table" in place shortly after the fire, well, "it's been blown apart because of all the unknowns and the other stuff," he says. "But once they start pulling out the debris, it'll be go go go."