YOUNKERS DEMOLITION: Neighboring Organization Affected

It has been almost two months since a massive fire destroyed the downtown Younkers building.

The cause of the March 29th fire hasn’t been determined.

Crews are finally starting the first phases of tearing down the building. It’s going to be a slow process and at least one local organization says it’s suffering because of it.

The Dress for Success organization operates out of a building on the corner of 7th and Locust. They provide business attire to low income woman needing it for interviews. But have stopped taking donations and have seen fewer clients since Seventh Street closed.

“We’ve had a recent uptick in client no shows and I don’t know if it’s because people can’t find our location or they can’t find places to park and all that kind of stuff,” Jody White said.

Dress for Success may be short on donations and clients for a while because the clean-up is just beginning.

This week, crews are starting by tearing down the top two floors of the younkers building by hand. It will take four to six weeks.

Once it’s done, people and cars could have access to Seventh Street.

Phase two involves testing the stability of the bottom floors. If they’re stable, plans can be drawn to combine the bottom floors of the east side of the building with the more intact west side which contains the tea room.

If the floors aren’t stable, they will need to be torn down.

“We believe there is a project left on the west side of the building. They’re looking at what’s left of it and how to integrate it with what is left of the east portion,” Phil Delafield said.

Hanging in the balance is the Walnut Street revitalization project. The Younkers building was supposed to be turned into low income apartments and some shops.

This will delayed for at least a year while construction takes place and crews determine how to move forward.