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Wurlitzer building sits in limbo in DeKalb

DeKALB – The fate of a crumbling building in DeKalb has yet to be decided.

None of the damage to the Wurlitzer Co. building at 1660 Pleasant St. has been repaired since parts of it collapsed twice last year.

The building owners are embroiled in a lawsuit with their insurance company over whether the company should pay for repairs or demolition, DeKalb City Attorney Dean Frieders said.

Although nothing has been decided yet, repairs likely would exceed the cost to demolish the collapsed part of the building, which could range from $300,000 to more than $1 million. 

City officials are not satisfied with the condition of the building, but they are waiting until the legal fight concludes before deciding what to do next, said T. J. Moore, DeKalb’s director of Public Works.

“There is a process underway right now,” Moore said. “As long as that process is underway, the city will decide what avenues are available after that.” 

DeKalb Logistics, Woodworks and an office where Northern Illinois University makes steel drums use a section of the building.

“There’s a portion that has been deemed safe by a structural engineer that is still being used on the northeastern corner of the building,” Frieders said. 

The main section of the building was inspected by city officials, who deemed it unsafe, Frieders said. A court order followed that prohibited anyone from living in the building, he said.

The section of the building deemed unsafe was condemned last year, Moore said. The building was built in sections between the 19th century and the 1960s.

The Building Division within the Public Works Department is responsible for making sure the area outside the Wurlitzer building has strong fencing, he said. In case the building collapses, he doesn’t want any debris going into the roadway and hurting motorists. 

City officials said at the time of the collapse in May 2012, some of the damage went all the way to the first floor. No one was harmed when the collapse happened. 

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