Chain link fencing surrounds the site, the second floor remains a picture of ruin, and most of the businesses that were once there have found, or are finding, new homes.
More than two months after fire devastated the Heritage Building on East Main Street in downtown Auburn, the fate of the structure adjacent to the B Street Plaza are still up in the air. The three-alarm fire on Dec. 26 destroyed the second floor of the 21,000-square-foot, 96-year-old building.
Derek Siver, a resident of the Trek Apartments one block west, wondered aloud before the Auburn City Council Monday what the future may hold for the building: the same businesses, or something new, unexpected, vibrant.
“It’d be a very good use of public space if it were livelier at night, and with law enforcement patrolling the area, it would be a very good environment for good public activity going on, maybe a street musician or two a day when the weather is nice,” Siver said. “Restaurants or something like a bar (near the plaza area) I think’d be a very good use of the space.”
No one can answer those questions – yet – responded Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus.
“We are waiting for the owner of the Heritage Building and the insurance company to come to some kind of an agreement on what can be done with that building, or what the insurance company will pay out. That’s not in the City’s authority right now, although if they take too much time, it will be in our authority,” Backus said of the site’s future. “But we agree we would like to see some vibrant, new structure come out of that place.”
There will be no return to the site’s pre-fire business status, Backus said, as most of the 39 displaced residents have found new homes and many of the businesses have already relocated to other downtown store fronts or are planning to move.
“That’s the positive news, and we hope to attract new business when the building is built up as it currently is, or demolished or rebuilt.” Backus said.
Valley Regional Fire Authority investigators determined that the building fire originated in the laundry room on the second floor.
There were no injuries to firefighters. Several individuals were evaluated for smoke inhalation.