City Deems Factors Row Restaurant Building Unsafe, Closes Side Street
Owner cites last summer's earthquake as cause of structural issues.
UPDATE (1:50 p.m.)—A year ago, Bruce Gardner said he hoped his new restaurant, Factors Row, would open in 2011. Now a year later and still not open, the downtown building has been deemed unsafe and an adjacent street has been closed.
The city of Annapolis confirmed on Monday afternoon that Fleet Street was open to pedestrian traffic as of Saturday evening. The confirmation came from Maria Broadbent, director of the city's Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs.
According to a recent press release, issued by the city of Annapolis, "Due to recently-identified structural problems at 26 Market Space, formerly Riordon’s [sic] Restaurant, vehicle and pedestrian traffic is prohibited between Market Space and the intersection of Fleet and Cornhill Streets."
The building must be made safe before normal traffic resumes on the streets, now restricted to residents only.
"These restrictions will remain in place until the building owner can implement protective measures on the Fleet Street side of the 26 Market Space building," the release states. "This closure is expected to be in place for 10 days to two weeks."
A cursory glance at the side of the building does show bricks and other buidling materials chipped and/or missing, but that's only half of the picture.
Gardner said the rest are interior structural problems and those (plus the exterior) were caused by the earthquake of August 2011.
"We didn't get power restored until mid November of 2011," he said.
"Dana Florestano, who is the building owner, as well as he's going to partner with me in the restaurant—he's an architect and he started seeing these loose bricks—there are 67 that have come off the interior walls and fallen on the floor," said Gardner.
That has caused "severe cracks," said Gardner, which could mean "the building could fall over."
A back wall and the side wall on the Fleet/Cornhill street are affected and need to be completely rebuilt. Some windows, which had been tied to the inside, to prevent falling out will have to be replaced also, according to Gardner.
Gardner did say they will be reutilizing the old materials.
"We're going to face the building with the old bricks," he said.
There is some good news here—the building was insured for earthquakes.
"There's other businesses in Annapolis that don't have earthquake insurance because who would have thought of it," said Gardner. "You always try to look for the cup is half full—I'm trying to look at it as I'm glad we didn't have it built and this took place."
As for the immediate need to reopen the adjacent street, Gardner said the brick mason has ordered steel and the scaffolding company has been contacted.
"I think the best case scenario is two weeks, but that's not my decision, that's the city's decision," Gardner said. "It'll be a strong, secure building when it's done, but obviously it's very frustrating—hopefully, we'll overcome it."
Any predictions now on when Factors Row might open?
"I'm afraid to say it—I've been so wrong every time I've opened my mouth," Gardner said. "If I said a year, I'm hesitant. It's probably a year from now."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed the street name for Cornhill incorrectly. Patch regrets the error.