Engineers assess pillar collapse damage at Red Ginger

Three well known businesses in downtown Traverse City remain closed after a structural pillar inside Red Ginger collapsed Friday night.

Three well known businesses in the heart of Traverse City's downtown district remain closed after a structural pillar inside the Red Ginger restaurant collapsed Friday night.

Engineers were inside Red Ginger Monday as they try to figure out what caused the pillar to collapse, and when people can return to the restaurant, the State Theatre and Horizon Books.

Thomas Darga, the site manager for the Red Ginger Building says the first priority shortly after the collapse was to make sure the building was as safe as possible. With the support pillar gone, Darga says the second story floor sank as much as 6 to 8 inches. Crews brought in temporary supports so that it would be safe for engineers to enter the building. Darga says the sinking of the floors has lead to signifcant damage on the second and third floors.

The problem isn't limited to Red Ginger since the resturant shares common walls with the State Theater and Horizon Books. Darga says a total floor collapse in Red Ginger could dramatically impact its neighbors, thus prompting the closure of all three until engineers have deemed they safe.

Traverse City's manager says those businesses affected may open later this week, but it all depends on how quickly engineers can determine the cause of the collapse and fix the problem.

â??We're concerned about those businesses and those businesses being open during this busiest time of year. We're also concerned about the safety of the general public and the people that use those buildings, so we have to really balance those two interests out and work for the best interest of everyone involved,â?? said Jered Ottenwess, Traverse City Manager.

It's been three days since customers have stopped coming through the doors of Red Ginger, the State Theatre and Horizon Books which has been tough on the businesses involved.

â??We want to be open so frustration I guess is part of it but we also want everything to be safe and we're just wishing it could move quicker, but understand the safety issue as well,â?? said Amy Reynolds, Horizon Books Sales Manager.

That's the case down the street at the State Theatre as employees are ready to get back to work.

â??We have people who work here and volunteers who are missing being with their friends and their coworkers so we're really looking forward to being open for a lot of reasons,â?? said Deb Lake, Traverse City Film Festival Executive Director.

When businesses reopen is still up in the air as engineers are figuring out what caused the pillar to collapse.

â??These three businesses in a row are pretty high profile, high traffic businesses in downtown. What we're hearing are good wishes, some surprise a lot of support and we're very happy and thankful for that,â?? said Reynolds.

Reynolds says in 50 years, aside from holidays, this is the only time Horizon Books has been closed, and are sending their well wishes to their neighbor.

â??Certainly our heart goes out to Red Ginger because they're in it for the long haul.â??

Ottenwess says rumors have been going around about the pillar collapse causing sink holes in the alley near Red Ginger. He says those rumors are not true.