Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sinking sidewalk on Sargent Avenue

City blames heavy rain, building owner concerned

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An area in front of the building at 543 Sargent Avenue is sectioned off as the sidewalk has dropped at least a third of a metre and bricks have fallen off the building's exterior.

SARAH TAYLOR / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

An area in front of the building at 543 Sargent Avenue is sectioned off as the sidewalk has dropped at least a third of a metre and bricks have fallen off the building's exterior. Photo Store

It looks like a baby sinkhole might be sprouting on Sargent Avenue.

Sal Infantino has been remodelling a vacant building at 543 Sargent Ave., by completely stripping its interior and repurposing it as a mixed-use space with four apartments upstairs and office space on the main floor.

After about 75 per cent of the interior renovations were finished, Infantino noticed the sidewalk in front of the building was beginning to sink. By July 4, the sidewalk seemed to have dropped at least a third of a metre, he said.

Now the sidewalk continues to collapse, bringing Infantino's building along with it; bricks have begun falling off the building's exterior and onto the sidewalk.

"The sidewalk is pinned up against my basement wall," Infantino said. "If there was someone walking when that brick fell, that would've been the end of them."

The building has been fenced off to deter pedestrians, and city inspectors have been trying to determine what's causing the sidewalk and building to collapse.

Michelle Bailey, a spokeswoman for the city, said inspectors determined heavy rainfall at the end of June was at least partly to blame for the sidewalk and building damage.

"Large soil settlements occurred beneath the public sidewalk and below a section of the south foundation of the building, causing the public sidewalk and the front wall of the building to collapse," Bailey said, in an email.

"The owner's engineering team (is) continuing to investigate the cause, and are also developing a strategy and plans to remediate the building damage."

Infantino said beneath the front sidewalk is where sewer and waterlines connect to the building and where street drainage occurs, which means a number of factors could be affecting the collapse.

"It's stressful because we've had so much work dealing with these old buildings, so many things came out of the woodworks... we've probably spent over $100,000 here so far," Infantino said.

The building's tenants were scheduled to move in next month, which has been delayed until further notice.

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2014 B2

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