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Cleaning up dangerous buildings in Warren

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WARREN, Ohio - It takes time and a lot of funding to clean up vacant commercial buildings since many of them are old and contain hazardous materials.

A dilapidated building on Griswold Street in Warren was once a speakeasy, now it's one of 20 hallowed out commercial buildings that are declared the most dangerous in the city of Warren.

"Basically, anything inside there that can be stripped out is gone. So periodically, someone still breaks in to go look around inside. They're curious," said Warren Councilman Al Novak.

Councilman Novak is concerned for people's safety, especially since there is a school bus stop nearby.

After at least five fires in the building, the roof is unstable and even Warren's Fire Department takes precautions. "We're not sending fire fighters in there under any conditions," said Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle.

Not far on Forrest Northwest is a closed plant that was once used for welding, cutting and fabricating. We couldn't go inside because it was newly re-boarded. That means someone recently broke in at their own risk.

"You still have a lot of electrical components, a lot combustibles are still left in that building," said Chief Nussle.

The upcoming auction at RG Steel raises some concern over the future of some of the buildings on the plant's complex.

"You're concerned when any industrial area becomes inactive, especially a facility that's been there a hundred years. You know there's going to be contaminants there," Novak said.

The former St. Joseph's hospital has an elevator shaft where intruders could get injured. It's currently owned by a Russian company.

And that's the problem, investors or companies may buy some of these buildings with the promise of doing something with them, but then they find themselves over the heads.

"The boarding notices were sent out. So the city's already spent money boarding that facility, boarding this facility. So the city in rights can put a lien on that property so they can basically apply for the grant and say it's a lost cause. There are no avenues to pursue for money for demolition," Novak said.

Novak says hopefully that will lead to lots of brownfield money. "You know there are contaminants in there, you know there's asbestos in there. There's going to have to be phase 1, phase 2 environmentals done on these just like when we demolish houses," Novak said.

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