Foundation failure to blame in St. Charles building's partial collapse

An eastbound lane on Route 64 remained shut down late Tuesday afternoon as St. Charles authorities try to minimize vibrations from traffic from further endangering an unstable building.

The downtown building at 117 W. Main St. was deemed uninhabitable after it nearly collapsed late Monday evening.

The building is being assessed and stabilized. No one was injured in the collapse.

Bob Vann, the head of building and zoning for the city, said one of the building's foundation walls failed, causing the floor of the second story to drop about 18 inches.

The Szechwan Restaurant, located on the second floor, was closed at the time of the failure. The first floor is vacant.

A passer-by noticed water flowing out of the front door of the building and called the fire department shortly after 8 p.m. Monday.

A flagstone foundation wall that bisects the basement had failed, according to Vann. Two columns that support the upper floors sit on top of that wall and are attached to the main support beam.

That beam settled, causing the second floor to drop.

Mirrors in the restaurant fell off walls, Vann said. A water line snapped when the floor fell.

Gas and water to two adjacent businesses, the Rx Cafe and the Steel Beam Theatre, were turned off, and access restricted. They are in an adjacent building that shares a party wall with the 117 building, and their floor joists attach to that wall. If 117 were to collapse, it could potentially pull those joists with it, according to Vann.

Vann said the building's owner has hired a structural engineer and a building stabilization company to shore up the structure. They will use steel jacks and steel beams, he said.

When it is stabilized, Main Street will reopen, he said. He hoped to have that done by early Tuesday evening.

“They are still trying to determine what caused the columns to fail,” he said. “It's going to take some time to figure it out.”

The building underwent renovation in 1988, Vann said. It is a combination of brick, steel and wood construction.

The building is 101 years

The owners of the Szechwan Restaurant have declined to comment until they have more information from the city and the building owner.