A visible depression in Warren Street is seen in this photograph taken Monday. While the city looks to fix the street soon, the question remains to the owners of two condemned buildings: what’s next, demo or repair?

- Photo: Andrew McGee
Suwannee Democrat

Progress has been slow on solving the sinkhole problem on Warren Street, near the Suwannee County Courthouse. The sinkhole, thanks to TS Debby, caused two buildings that back it to shift and partially collapse into the hole and folks keep questioning what is going to happen and when will the fence on Warren Street finally come down?

The city was forced to condemn the buildings and fence off the area due to the dangerous instability of the structures as well as the street. The city is currently looking to hire contractors to repair the damaged street.

“We’re taking some recommendations on a set of fix packages,” said City of Live Oak Public Works Director Brent Whitman. “There’s been no timeline, but we’re making bids.”

Whitman also stressed that the owners of the privately-owned land within the vicinity of the sinkhole were encouraged to act quickly on the repair or with the demolition of the two buildings because the roads can’t be fixed until the land projects are complete.

One of the building owners thinks the opposite.

“I think it’ll be easier to fix the buildings if the roads were fixed,” said John Chambliss, who owns one of the condemned buildings. “If we tear them down, it’ll be less expensive to take all the buildings down all at once.”

When asked what his plans were to do about the building on his land, he said “I’m going to leave it up to my daughter. I’m also waiting to see what (John) Robinson does.”

Robinson is the owner of the building that housed the former home of the Big Wheel Market Place. That building is on the corner of Warren Street and Pine Avenue and is also condemned.

“Both (buildings) will be torn down at the same time,” said Robinson. “It takes a long time. There’s a lot to deal with the demolition permits.”
However, there is no timeline on when demo will begin.

According to Chambliss, he received two letters from City Hall about his building.

“I got two letters,” said Chambliss. “One was about condemned, the other letter was about (possible) demolition.”

Chambliss has a soft heart when it comes to the building. He opposes the idea of demolishing it because of it’s significant historical value.

“I want to save it for history, it was built in 1902 and the courthouse was built in 1904,” said Chambliss. “But, I can’t rent it, to offset for what it’s worth.”

Warren Street is a staple for Christmas on the Square, a highly popular festival in downtown Live Oak. The street is closed for vendors to set up their wares during the event. It is not certain if the sinkhole or buildings issue will be resolved by then. 
“It’s hard when you get the destruct order,” said Robinson. “We’re hoping we’d have it done before Christmas on the Square. We’re working to that end.”

This Week's Circulars