Hazardous downtown building exposed

City officials have ordered the closure of downtown’s Betty
Boop-themed store until an engineering study determines if the
building poses an earthquake hazard.
Gilroy – City officials have ordered the closure of downtown’s Betty Boop-themed store until an engineering study determines if the building poses an earthquake hazard.

The unreinforced brick walls of 7455 Monterey Street, now home to JJ’s Boop -N- Stuff, were exposed when an adjacent building was demolished last month. Officials have labeled such older buildings as a public health threat since they could crumble during an earthquake. The building has been added to a list of 27 others in the downtown area that require engineering studies.

“During the demolition process, the contractor brought to our attention that the stability of the adjacent wall was questionable,” said John Greenhut, deputy director of the building department. “It’s just an old decaying brick wall…It’s also the oldest block in the downtown area so it’s not surprising.”

Building owner Kirk Tuckness could not be reached by press time. A yellow sign in the window states the store will reopen in July at the San Jose Flea Market. In the meantime, the building is closed to the public.

The building was not included on a list of downtown buildings identified as earthquake hazards during a study in the early ’90s, according to Greenhut. The rear portion of the building is made of reinforced block that appears to have been added in later years, Greenhut said, guessing that the building could have been overlooked during the study because none of the brick was exposed.

Greenhut could not say if Betty Boop store would have to be demolished.

“We won’t know that until an engineer does the analysis,” he said. “We’re trying to err on the side of caution.”

Engineering analyses of roughly half the remaining unreinforced buildings in the downtown area are expected to be complete by the end of summer.

Serdar Tumgoren covers City Hall for The Dispatch. Reach him at 847-7109 or [email protected]

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