BELLEFONTE — The Hotel Do De will be torn down, the building’s owner said Wednesday after an engineer surveyed the building that was badly damaged by fire Sept. 9.
“It’s got to come down,” said John Dann Sr., the owner. “We’re going to do what we have to do.”
Jesse Smith, the structural engineer, was hoisted up in the Undine Fire Company’s ladder truck to survey the damage, peering into the building through the windows, checking out the roof and taking pictures. He said there was extensive fire damage, the roof collapsed onto the third floor and the wood has been badly charred.
Smith will give Bellefonte officials a written report this week outlining what he found. Once the officials have the report, they will notify Dann of what they want him to do and give him time to comply.
Smith said the damage is so bad that it’s highly unlikely anyone would want to invest the money to repair it.
While the Do De can’t be saved barring a generous investor wanting to restore the building, the Garman Opera House Theatre could be.
The Garman suffered fire damage to the top floors, but Smith said the building is still being assessed to see how stable it is.
In the meantime, the borough will pay to put a roof over the Garman. Its roof collapsed in the fire, and heavy rain Tuesday meant the inside got wet.
The owner, Kathryn Iadarola, is in foreclosure proceedings with a bank and had declined to comment.
Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said it’s important that the building be protected from rain and snow as soon as possible.
“Given the circumstances, the borough’s going to have to step up to do that,” he said.
Stewart said he doesn’t know how much a roof will cost.
Bellefonte Fire Chief Tim Schreffler, also on the scene during the inspection Wednesday, said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.
He went inside the Do De on Wednesday during the inspection and said the damage he saw was “horrible.”
Schreffler said East High Street in front of the Do De will remain closed until further notice.
Dann was able to retrieve some items from inside. He hauled out files, parts of a cash register and other mementos, like a framed picture of the Do De’s exterior and a sign warning people who aren’t 21 years old to leave the bar.
A pair of athletic shoes and a piggy bank were pulled out of one of the apartments Wednesday and returned to the resident.
Workers removed the Hotel Do De sign from the front porch, and the sign for J&E Guns was taken down, too.
Dann said he hasn’t moved forward with finding a new location for the Do De bar, because figuring out what would become of the building is the top priority.
The people who were left homeless were living in a temporary shelter organized by the local chapter of the American Red Cross in the Trinity United Methodist Church through Wednesday afternoon. The shelter closed once the residents either found permanent homes or went to stay with family or friends while working to finalize their housing plans.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT