Five businesses remain closed due to Norfolk building’s awning collapse

Posted at 3:46 PM, Jun 08, 2015

Norfolk, Va. (WTKR) - Rotting wood that supported an awning topped with terracotta tiles gave way, triggering a collapse that closed several businesses on Botetourt Street, according to an engineer's report.

The awning that encircled the building crashed to the sidewalk and onto the cobblestoned Botetourt St. Monday. On Tuesday, an engineer said the collapse didn't affect the building's structural integrity, but the remnants of the awning that survived must also be taken down.

Norfolk provided more than 20 pages of construction permits and inspections for several businesses in that building, including a restaurant, a coffee house and a design studio. None of the documents detailed any overall assessment of the building, and there was no indication from the reports that the rot had been identified as a problem.

Architects and engineers told NewsChannel 3 there are numerous inspections when a building is under construction or renovation, but when a building is finished there are generally no further inspections. The building on Botetourt St. was built in 1920.

No one was hurt. Twice in two years the Norfolk City Council has approved a total of three outdoor tables and several chairs for sidewalk seating at two of the building's businesses,  but no one was at those tables when the awning tumbled.

"I`m hoping we can get up and running as soon as possible...This is such a great part of town," said Kristina Orchard, employee at Hummingbird Macarons and Desserts.

A representative from CURE coffee house said they are working to organize a bike coffee bean delivery service to compensate for lost income.  He said they have wanted to organize this service in Downtown Norfolk for a while, but now have the opportunity to spend time working on the project.

There is no way of knowing how long the businesses will remain closed.