Just the Facts

The purpose of this feature is to be transparent and direct with the community about topics relating to the City of DeKalb. The feature is an effort by the City of DeKalb to dispel rumors and clear up confusion on a variety of matters. Just the Facts will be updated as rumors, misperceptions, or topics of confusion arise in the community. 

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Apr 10

Condemnation of Lord Stanley's, The Annex, and Common Grounds

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 5:18 PM by Ray Munch

On Friday, April 6, 2018, the City took action to declare an emergency condemnation of the premises at 142-150 E. Lincoln Highway, commonly known as Lord Stanley's, The Annex and Common Grounds.  The condemnation was undertaken based on significant property maintenance and sanitation issues identified at Lord Stanley's, as well as significant structural deterioration concerns in the basement and floor structure constituting the main first-floor commercial area of The Annex and Common Grounds.  The City also identified several concerns on basic life-safety issues that pose significant hazards to resident well-being, for those residents who live in the second-floor apartments over those establishments.

There were no health or sanitation issues identified within the premises of Common Grounds; all concerns with that part of the building were confined to structural concerns under the business, which the owner of Common Grounds was not aware of.

To provide full transparency as to the reasons for the emergency condemnation, the City presented both a chronology of events and a PowerPoint of exemplary photographs to the City Council at its regular meeting on April 9, 2018.  Copies of that PowerPoint and chronology are provided herein, to fully inform the public.

The City took prompt actions with the owners of the buildings to implement emergency remediation and repairs and was able to avoid condemning the residential portions of the property.  Owners of both Lord Stanley’s as well as the building housing the Annex and Common Grounds have been responsive and taken immediate steps toward resolution.  Lord Stanley’s has been able to take temporary measures to remediate some issues in the short term and is actively working with City staff to address the remaining items and has been permitted to reopen as of April 10, 2018.  The owner of the building housing Common Grounds and The Annex have also engaged the appropriate engineer to assess structural deficiencies and prepare a report with temporary and long-term solutions to stabilize the structure.  The City is working directly with the owner of the remainder of the building to address the safety concerns therein and to permit the reopening of the affected businesses (The Annex and Common Grounds).

The City takes building safety seriously and is committed to working with responsive owners to improve the quality of buildings throughout the City, as well as taking measured enforcement action necessary to protect the public safety.

Community Development Presentation to City Council on 4/9/2018


·         Thursday, April 5, 2018:

o   3:00pm: Fire Prevention Officer (FPO) Lynch and Chief Building Official (CBO) Thaddeus Mack go to Lord Stanley’s to conduct annual Fire Life Safety (FLS) inspection.  FLS inspections are performed during normal business hours of licensed establishments, unscheduled, to determine real conditions within the premises.

§  Inspection includes Lord Stanley’s and a portion of the basement of Annex; does not extend to basement of Lord Stanley’s, or the basement under Common Grounds.  Inspection is halted shortly before 5:00pm.

§  CBO and FPO speak with Lord Stanley’s employees and set up scheduled appointment to return at 10:00am the following day.

·         Friday, April 6, 2018:

o   10:00am:  FPO and CBO return to Lord Stanley’s; employee of establishment is there to unlock and let them in for inspection.

§  Inspection of Lord Stanley’s reveals extent of significant property maintenance concerns in Lord Stanley’s basement, with large areas of organic growth (including in areas of food storage), unsanitary conditions, areas with floor tiles that may contain asbestos, and other property maintenance violations.

§  Further inspection of The Annex shows a number of more severe conditions that jeopardize the structural integrity of the property and pose an immediate hazard to first floor occupants.

§  Inspection of common hallways for second floor residential shows a number of propane cylinders being stored indoors, as well as the complete absence of fire extinguishers.

§  Inspection continued all morning and into early afternoon.  FPO and CBO returned to City Hall to review codes and determine plan for addressing building; advised employees that FPO and CBO would return.

o   2:25pm:  FPO calls Mark Thomson, owner of Lord Stanley’s (at west end of building) regarding concerns at the property, both in residential and commercial areas.  FPO explains that property will be condemned pending remediation.

o   2:25pm:  City Attorney calls attorney for Mark Thomson and advises of concerns identified at property and emergency condemnation. 

o   ~2:30pm:  FPO returns to property while CBO works on drafting written notices to property owners. 

§  Commercial areas posted. 

§  FPO speaks with Thomson’s brother at property and explains the concerns for residential area.  Thomson’s brother removes propane cylinders and discusses timeline to install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  Based on timeline for repair and desire to avoid displacing tenants unnecessarily, owner allowed to complete repairs over the weekend (install fire extinguishers.

§  Residential doors posted with notice indicating that condemnation was contemplated for following Monday.

§  FPO speaks with manager from World Famous Pizza as well as Lord Stanley’s.

o   ~4:00pm:  Tenant in Common Grounds provides access to basement of that facility, for purposes of inspection.  Structural concerns identified.  Tenant came to basement to personally observe the concerns.

§  Common Grounds posted as condemned.

o   4:50pm:  CBO calls Bill Valos, owner of building containing The Annex and Common Grounds.  CBO explains concerns to him and enumerates all identified issues.

o   5:32pm:  CBO has second phone call with Valos regarding building issues.

o   5:54pm:  Economic Development Planner Jason Michnick has phone call with owner of Common Grounds to offer support.

o   6:10pm:  CBO has first phone call with Thomson regarding emergency repairs and efforts that can be undertaken.

·         Sunday, April 8, 2018:

o   Concerns regarding misinformation identified; staff took actions to post a notice at the property explaining current status.

·         Monday, April 9, 2018:

o   8:30am:  CBO has phone call with Valos regarding building conditions and potential for emergency repair.

o   11:15am:  CBO meets Thomson at Lord Stanley’s to review temporary repair/remediation work he performed there over the weekend.  Notice letter outlining all code deficiencies hand delivered.

o   12:21pm:  CBO has second phone call with Valos regarding building conditions and repairs.

o   1:30pm:  CBO meets at The Annex / Common Grounds with Valos and Valos’ structural engineer to discuss remediation plans and temporary shoring.  Notice letter outlining all code deficiencies hand delivered.

o   2:00pm:  CBO re-inspects common hallways in residential portions of 2nd floor above annex, and confirms that condemnation is not required.


Anticipated Timeline for Remediation of Structural Concerns at The Annex and Common Grounds:  Pursuant to today’s on-site meeting, City is awaiting remediation plan from Valos’ structural engineer.

Anticipated Timeline for Lifting Condemnation of Lord Stanley’s/World Famous Pizza:  Again, based on work owner completed over the weekend and today’s meeting, could be as soon as tomorrow, April 10th.