Asbestos halts renovation plans for derelict Indiana hotel

6 Aug 2013 by under News

Sheraton Hotel Gary Ind 2 100x100 Asbestos halts renovation plans for derelict Indiana hotelCity leaders in Gary, Ind., would like to renovate a derelict hotel property to help revitalize the downtown area. But despite a previous abatement effort that gutted the former Sheraton Hotel, new inspections show the building is still full of the deadly material. It is estimated removal could cost more than $1 million.

The 14-story property in the heart of Gary’s downtown at Fifth Avenue and Broadway was built 45 years ago and opened as a Holiday Inn. It later changed ownership and operated successfully for many years as a Sheraton Hotel. However, changes in Gary’s economic situation in the late 1970s and early 1980s caused business to dwindle, and the hotel closed in 1985.

In 2008, city leaders hoped to revitalize the property and perhaps use it to house senior citizens. Then-Mayor Rudy Clay secured a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency () for asbestos abatement, under the direction of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

The building was gutted from the top floors down, leaving only structural supports in place. Asbestos was removed from the building’s interior, but it appears the project ran out of money before it could be completed. Also, some asbestos was left on the exterior of the building and parking deck, because at the time the structure was sound and the asbestos was embedded in the material where it could not pose a danger of being inhaled.

An initial estimate said 98 percent of the asbestos had been removed from the structure. However, a more recent review of the property says there is much more left to do.

James Harless, vice president and principal of Soil and Material Engineers, Inc., which was brought in to reassess the property, tells the Northwest Indiana Times there is more than 60,000 square feet of asbestos inside the building, embedded in concrete and in electrical fixtures and boiler fireproofing. Also, the asbestos coating left on the building’s exterior and parking garage is now unstable and brittle, and must be removed.

Asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed, allowing microscopic particles to be released and inhaled. These particles can lodge in the body’s tissues, mutate and cause asbestos disease including cancer. Asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and, rarely, the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

Gary city officials are hoping the EPA can once again step in to help fund the asbestos abatement necessary to allow them to finally rehab the building. They have provided a proposal to the EPA’s emergency response team, which is currently being evaluated by that agency.

For now, residents of Gary hold their breath and wait.

Source: NWITimes.com / GaryCommunity.com

One Response to “Asbestos halts renovation plans for derelict Indiana hotel”

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