NORWAY, Maine — The owner of the historic Odd Fellows Hall has been notified that he may face court action for failing to secure broken windows in his vacant downtown building that officials say now has become a safety issue.
In a letter sent June 17 after two previous mailings of the same document in May and April, to owner Sam Patel of Jasmin LLC in Westbrook, Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman said the condition of the property at 380 Main St. is about to be declared a nuisance and dangerous building under Chapter 91, subchapter 3, section 2802. The designation is considered a prosecutable crime.
In the letter, Corey-Whitman states, “You’ve been made aware several times via letters and emails that your building windows were broken and a safety hazard. You’ve done nothing about the concern.”
Corey-Whitman said there are broken windows on the Main Street side of the building and that glass has fallen onto Main Street and the alley between the building and the adjacent Opera House building. The condition has created what Corey-Whitman called “unsafe and hazardous conditions for the public.”
Patel was given 10 days from the receipt of the notice to make the repairs. In late May, Patel notified Corey-Whitman that he was out of the country but had a contractor measure the windows and intended to replace the glass. He also said he asked a contractor to cover the windows with plywood until the glass could be installed. Neither has happened.
The windows have been broken for months and have put a damper on revitalization efforts in the adjacent buildings including the Opera House.
Patel, a retailer in southern Maine, purchased the building in December from T.D. Bank but has not made a public move to utilize the empty three-story, brick building.
In January, Patel told the Sun Journal he was weighing his options about what he would do with thee three-story brick building.
Patel, who declined to elaborate on the future use, said he intends to go before the Planning Board with his plans once they are fleshed out.
The building, which sits next to the Norway Opera House, has been vacant for years.
The interior was gutted by Harvey Solomon, owner of the building before the bank foreclosed on it and tried to sell it at auction in March 2011.
Dawn and Harvey Solomon of New Horizons Capital Investment purchased it in July 2008 for $63,500. They told town officials they planned to renovate the building and reopen storefronts on the first floor.
Although the couple secured the back wall and cleared the interior of debris, renovations stopped in 2010 just before Dawn Solomon was charged and subsequently convicted of bilking the state’s MaineCare system out of more than $4 million. The building was put up for auction by TD Bank along with a dozen other Solomon properties.
It has sat untouched since that time. Several windows on the second and third floor front have been smashed presumably by vandals.
A study of Odd Fellows Hall by Resurgence Engineering and Preservation Inc. of Portland several years ago indicated it would take more than $800,000 to fully renovate it.
The basement and first floor of the hall were built in 1894, and the other two floors were added in 1910. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the historic downtown district. It once housed the District Court, a jail and businesses.