Demolition is buildings' likely fate

MONMOUTH -- Demolition on the building that housed Real Taste of India in downtown Monmouth could take place next month, owners of the fire-damaged property said.

MONMOUTH -- Demolition on the building that housed Real Taste of India in downtown Monmouth could take place next month, owners of the fire-damaged property said.

The former home of Petals & Vines gift shop, next door at 173 W. Main St., meanwhile, will be renovated with a targeted reopening in November, said Bodie Bemrose, who co-owns the buildings with business partner Gary Miller.

Both sites have been shuttered since a June 27 fire scorched and gutted the Indian restaurant. Petals & Vines, which suffered water and smoke damage, has relocated temporarily to Broad Street.

Bemrose said he still isn't certain on an exact cause, though he noted "it probably started as an electrical fire above a walk-in cooler."

He and Miller, who operate as the Monmouth Holding Company, have been waiting for two months for insurance representatives and engineers to determine whether the two-story structure at 183 W. Main St. could be restored or if it should be replaced.

The roof and a significant portion of the second floor is charred or caved in, while the downstairs is "almost a complete loss," Bemrose said.

Surprisingly, insurance officials have said it "could potentially be saved," Bemrose said. But a bid to erect a new building on the spot by Bemrose's contractor, Dalke Construction, would be about the same cost, he added.

Bemrose said he and Miller prefer to raze the property and construct anew, though a decision will hinge on a final budget. A best-case scenario would see demolition start in mid-October, he said.

A new building would be constructed in late 1800s or early 1900s architecture. Bemrose said he also wants to create second-floor apartments.

"It would require additional investment on our parts, but we think it would be a good opportunity for downtown," he said. "We're committed to a long-term picture for Main Street."

The owners of Real Taste of India, Balwinder Singh and Mohan Lal, have both expressed interest in reopening on that corner spot, Bemrose said.

Cost of the project would be in the $500,000 range, he said. Pending design review, it would take six or seven months from the time the building was demolished to construct a new one, he said.

Bemrose said renovation and redesign on the interior of Petals & Vines is under way. The gift shop's owners, Maggie and Dwight Triplett, had originally hoped to return to the shop by the end of August.

A delay has come through coordinating between insurance agencies of the tenants and Monmouth Holding Company; tenants made their own storefront improvements that are covered under policies separate from his, Bemrose said.

"It's very cumbersome," he said. "But ... it's just the process and everybody is working well together."

Former Monmouth businessman and developer Van Crider built the 183 W. Main St. building during the mid-1950s and operated it as a grocery store. Bemrose bought the building from Crider's family in 2006.

Sally Crider, Van's daughter, said it would be sad to see the building torn down.

"But those things happen," Crider said. "I'm glad (Bemrose and Miller) will rebuild there, just so the site doesn't sit boarded up and unused ... that's not good for Monmouth."


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