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Burned building to be razed

Eileen JoyceA crane lifts burned rubble from the probation office Friday as workers prepare to demolish the building.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The Nevada City landmark at the corner of Commercial and North Pine streets cannot be saved and should be demolished, a city official said Friday.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” city engineer Bill Falconi said of the two-story building gutted by fire Wednesday morning.



The building is essentially an unreinforced brick structure, Falconi told the City Council at an emergency meeting. “There is very little stability to it.”




The 18,000-square-foot landmark housed Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar, The Herb Shop, Herb Shop Records, the county Probation Department and Victim/Witness Program and Off Broadstreet theater.

After listening to Falconi’s report, the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to allow the demolition of the building as soon as possible.

Friday’s ordinance includes a clause to protect Deer Creek from toxic runoffs from the fire scene.

Lynell Garfield, river science director for South Yuba River Citizens League, said volunteers will install fabric mesh traps at storm drains to catch pollutants before they enter the creek.

Ken Baker, president of Nevada City Engineering Inc., and Gary Tintle, a Nevada City-based contractor, own the building with their wives. They said the demolition work could begin as soon as the cause of the fire is determined. Robinson Enterprises Inc. of Nevada City will do the demolition and NTD Architects of Auburn will draw up plans for the new building, Baker said.

The weakest wall backs into a former bank building at the corner of North Pine and Broad streets, he said.

Baker, who praised the city staff and the firefighters, said he first thought the building could be saved. But after watching the blaze for 11/2 hours Wednesday, he knew it was gone. At that point Baker recalled, he could only say: “Burn, baby, burn!”

Greg Cook, who owns Friar’s Tuck with wife, Rona, said he will not relocate and could reopen in a year. “We’re going to get ready,” he said. “Our crew will be there.”

Ann Hartung Bonivert, who co-owns a nearby building on Broad Street, said had it not been for firefighters’ efforts, a city block – or the entire town – could have been lost.

David Vertin, president of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said it has established an account for the victims. The chamber will work with the Nevada County Cultural Preservation Trust, owner of Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

City and fire officials will answer questions about the fire at a community meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday at City Hall, 317 Broad St.


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