Here we go again. That was our first thought on Tuesday morning when Garland Trice’s derelict, condemned building partially fell yet again.
Trice is the owner of the former Sahara Temple building in downtown Pine Bluff, in case you have been living under a rock and don’t know the story. This latest collapse comes about two-and-a-half years after the building’s roof gave way onto the third floor in July 2014, spilling bricks onto the ground and causing a section of Main Street between Sixth and Eighth avenues to be closed. The street remains closed today.
Trice has long played the victim in the saga surrounding his building, and if you ask us, the City of Pine Bluff dropped the ball on this issue in 2014. That building should have been leveled then, and Trice should have been billed for the work.
Trice claims the city never gave him a fair chance to restore his building after it suffered the first collapse. Mr. Trice, with all due respect, your building was too far gone to save. And you haven’t done one thing to shore it up or tear it down in nearly three years. The city gave you many more chances than most other cities would have.
This building is a curse on downtown Pine Bluff.
It’s hurting neighboring businesses and could have killed someone during Tuesday’s collapse. The building just to the north of Trice’s suffered heavy damage. It’s owned by Lloyd F. Lee, a certified public accountant, who runs his company there.
Just down the street, Jimmy Dill owns Pine Bluff Title Company at the corner of Main Street and Eighth Avenue. He has been losing customers for two years due to Main Street being closed.
“My customers can’t get to me,” Dill said. “We’ve got older customers who’ve had to park a block a way and walk in the rain. It’s affected business.”
Trice’s building’s latest collapse comes three months after he was found guilty by Judge Jodi Raines Dennis, who sentenced him to 30 days in jail, which was to be suspended if Trice were to demolish his dilapidated building a set number of days from the time her order was entered. She also fined him $1,000.
It’s not clear what that amount of time was, nor if Trice was in violation of Dennis’ order. We are currently researching the case file and will have more on that at a later date.
Neither Trice nor his lawyer, Willard Proctor Jr., have returned out calls.
Prior to Wednesday, Trice had argued that he planned to repair his building, but city officials did not approve his plan. Shortly after his roof collapsed in July 2014, Trice presented a plan to salvage the building during a period of 26 months to 38 months. City of Pine Bluff Inspection and Zoning Director Mitzi Ruth rejected that time frame because professional contractors and building inspectors determined his building was structurally unstable and contained unsupported walls.
All that said, it’s time for the building to come down. Do the right thing, Mr. Trice, tear your building down so Pine Bluff can move forward.