City warns of danger from falling building material downtown - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City warns of danger from falling building material downtown

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Something is falling from the sky downtown, and this time it's not rain. City officials are warning the public about a vacant building at 1208 Avenue K.

Years ago, marble tile siding on the Lubbock Omni Centre fell into the street. Now it's a similar story, but different material.

"The current system is EFIS (Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems) and this system is failing and coming off," said City of Lubbock chief building inspector, Steve O'Neal.

Piece by piece the wall is tearing off. Because of the hazard, the city has a detour sign posted on one side of Avenue K. That area is considered the "fall zone."

"It's a sore thumb no doubt. It's hurting a lot of people, hopefully no physically," said O'Neal.

Nino Garcia walks down 14th street near the 11-story building every day. Every week, he says, he's more concerned about his safety.

"Everybody walks across the street. When they walk [near the building] they walk on the other side," Garcia said.

Mayor Tom Martin says the city has fined the owner out of Houston, Hung Nyugen, $200,000. He has not paid, nor fixed what the city asked.

"As far as the issue of recovering the money, we have to go through issues of civil legal proceedings," Martin said.

"The owner was also the contractor who put the work up. We had his insurance on file and we filed it against his insurance," O'Neal said.

O'Neal says last week's repairs costs were borne entirely by the owner, not the City of Lubbock. Prior emergency repairs done in May of 2011, costing approximately $5,000, were performed by the City and filed against the owner/contractor's insurance policy.

According to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District, the building is worth $2.7 million. The city says the owner is holding on, because the exterior has been deemed salvageable. However, a structural engineer has to find a way to properly secure it.

"The issue has been what spacing, and what kind of fastener needs to be put on there," said O'Neal.

Unsure about the timeline, the city wants the material immediately removed.

"We've got to maintain all of our legal options," said O'Neal.

We tried to contact Nguyen, but all of the numbers we could find were disconnected.

CORECCTION

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