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Officials, firms plan around building collapse

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

MURRAY - Businesses affected by the collapse of a downtown building hope to learn by mid-week when and if they can reopen at the same location. 

Officials with the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce and Murray Main Street met Monday morning with affected business owners.

City Administrator Matt Mattingly said the owner of the collapsed building at Fourth and Main streets has hired a structural engineer and the city has required the owner to get a report from the engineer by the end of the workday Wednesday.

"We're anticipating that, hopefully, in the next couple of days," Mattingly said after the meeting at the Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"That recommendation will tell us what we can and can't do as far as relieving some of the harm to the surrounding businesses."

The city block surrounding the building is off limits to the public, and all utilities have been shut off.

The building that collapsed is made up of two units, one the office of an attorney. The unit on the west side of the building has collapsed and the status of the unit on the building's east side is uncertain pending the recommendation of the structural engineer.

Main is closed to out-of-town traffic from 12th street to Industrial Road, as is 4th Street from Glendale Road to Chestnut Street. The city closed North Third Street from Main to Walnut Street as well.

Other streets around the building remain open. Mattingly said local traffic is allowed downtown, and officials emphasized that downtown Murray is open for business.

"Murray's downtown is still vibrant, still going, there's plenty of places to shop and eat," Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce CEO Aaron Dail said. "And it's just this one little corner that is down for a short-term period, and we just don't know the details of how long it's going to be."

Chamber and Main Street officials used Monday's meeting to gather contact information from the affected business owners and property landlords and to inform them about assistance they can receive.

"We wanted to make sure that people understood what is the worst-case scenario and what resources are available for them to be able to leverage and use if they need to move temporarily, move permanently, change services, whatever is available," Dail said.

Printing Services of Murray, a commercial printer in business since 1964, is one of the 15 businesses affected.

General manager and CEO Danny Pruitt said the business is directly behind the building that collapsed, which raises safety concerns.

Pruitt said Murray police contacted him near midnight Saturday, and he was told none of his employees could enter the building for 24 hours.

"Then I received a phone call from Matt Mattingly (Sunday) and he had informed me of this meeting today and that we would not be allowed to... have normal business operations being performed today," Pruitt said.

Pruitt said he worked into the night Sunday informing employees of the closure, answering their questions and informing customers. The manager said he has also been busy trying to get current projects - many are finished - out of the building and into customers' hands.

He has also had to plan in case the building remains closed more than a few days.

"So I'm having to look at weeks and months of 'How are we going to do business without it putting us out of business?' And, of course, that's a huge concern," Pruitt said, "and I'm having to put a lot of time into planning for that to make sure that we get our equipment moved and people in the proper areas to cover and get the clients back on schedule."

Pruitt said relocating would be difficult because moving printing presses requires special - and expensive - equipment. A move would likely have to be permanent, something the company would like to avoid.

"We've been in business there for 50 years and, actually, this year we're marking our 50 anniversary," Pruitt said. "And so there's a lot of meaning and sentimental value in being in that location, and everybody knows we're there."

Pruitt said based on what he heard in the meeting Monday he is optimistic that the business will only be closed a few days.

 

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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