City officials say they're done waiting on a mason they hired more than a year ago to restore the side of the Oliphant Building downtown.
City officials last spring signed a contract with Jim Schlomer, owner of Schlomer Enterprises, 2670 S. Henderson Road, to repair the side of the Oliphant Building at 214 Main St., which was left damaged in a December 2011 blaze that destroyed the Gimbel Bond building next door.
The project hit snag after snag — due both to unexpected construction delays and hiccups in Schlomer’s own personal life.
But city officials, once willing to wait, say their patience has run out. City engineer John Sprague said they’ve officially terminated the contract with Schlomer. They gave him time to remove his equipment from the Gimbel Corner, Sprague said, and have now begun legal proceedings to have it removed after he allegedly missed the city’s deadline.
Sprague has since solicited three quotes to finish the job, and the city’s Board of Works will consider those when it meets at 5 p.m. on Monday at City Hall, 201 Vigo St.
Per state law, municipalities must solicit quotes on projects estimated to be more than $25,000. A letting process is only necessary on potential contracts greater than $150,000.
Sprague said interested masons include Hendrixson Concrete and Construction and Walker Masonry, both Vincennes companies, as well as Schlock and Sons, Elnora.
The unsightly wall has been a sore spot for city officials for nearly a decade.
They were left with the mess after the former Gimbel Bond building's owner cut his losses and left town after the fire. Eventually, the city partnered with Good Samaritan Hospital and Vincennes University to pay to clear away the debris.
But the scarred wall, which technically isn't part of the Oliphant Building at all but a remaining piece of the Gimbel Bond building, remained.
City officials in 2016 explored several methods to clean up the downtown eyesore. In early 2017, they awarded an $82,000 contract to Schrock and Sons, but they abandoned it after a year had passed with no actual work being done.
In April of 2018, they went with a lesser contract of $47,000 with Schlomer.