The city pulled back a fence on Fleet Street Friday afternoon to allow vehicular traffic for the first time since April 13.
Annapolis' Director of Maria Broadbent closed the street after she received a letter from Dana Florestano, owner of 26 Market Space, regarding the structural integrity of his building's north wall.
"The original concern that we got was that it could come down," Broadbent said. "The letter from his engineer said that there was imminent danger of the wall collapsing, and my job is primarily is to protect the public. So, I really didn't have a choice but to close the street."
The building, which used to be the Riordan's Restaurant, is in the process of being renovated by Eastport resident Bruce Gardner, who is converting the space into a new restaurant called Factors Row.
The space has been vacant since Riordan's closed in 2007.
Broadbent said that Gardner's team of contractors are "almost done. In fact, they will probably be done today with the work to stabilize the Fleet Street wall. You don't see them doing it because the work they are doing is on the inside."
Keast & Hood Co. engineer Jon Tung told the city last night that his company performed three site visits on behalf of the city to inspect the wall. The final visit was June 20.
"Based on our visual observations, the current condition of the 26 Market Space north wall has not worsened over the course of our involvement," Tung wrote in a letter to the city. "However, the wall does not appear capable of resisting required lateral loads."
Tung's letter stated that his firm had no objections to re-opening Fleet Street while permanent stabilization is made to the wall to bring it up to code.
"We recommend monitoring of the wall and blocking off the area immediately adjacent to the north side of the building from public access until permanent stabilization efforts are complete," Tung wrote. "This may be accomplished by relocating the existing chain link fence approximately 11 feet to the south to align with the parallel parking spaces."
Mayor Cohen said that re-opening the street was a priority.
"I made it clear that as soon as we got word that the wall was not an imminent danger, we needed to open the street and support those businesses and residents affected by its closure," Cohen said.
Originally, the city planned the re-opening for June 14.
Broadbent said, "The city had issued a correction notice with a compliance date of June 14, and in order to be in compliance they would have to have finished all the stabilization work to the level it is right now. They missed that deadline."
Since Fleet Street was closed in April, parking on Cornhill Street has been open for residents only. Broadbent said she was not sure when that will change.
"I would need to confirm that with the people that do the traffic enforcement, but we notified them that would be opened up," Broadband. "I'm assuming it would be, but that's their decision."