Efforts to restore the fire ravaged Mercer Building in the Old Market have taken another step forward. The city issued a permit needed for the rebuilding effort to begin.
The Omaha Permits & Inspections Department met with the building owners, contractors, and architects this week. Superintendent Jay Davis says the city issued bracing permits for the Mercer Building. That means they're securing the building on the north, south and east walls so they can remove debris from the m's pub side of the structure.
January 9th, a fire ripped through the building destroying almost everything inside. No one was hurt while inside the building. Crews fought the 3-alarm fire for eight hours before it was deemed under control. Initial reports say there was a smell of natural gas, and MUD had the gas lines under control about 1 ½ hours after the fire was reported.
Davis says this is progress to show everyone that the building will not be torn down.
"Once the bracing's in place we can start to get a better look at some of the structure that was left or not left on the north side on the M's Pub side. Then we'll have a much better idea of how to go back with it and rebuild it structurally to make it sound again," Davis explained.
The work will take some time because a portion of the floors and ceilings inside did collapse. Some of the bricks will have to be removed.
Fire investigators have ruled it an accidental fire, but they've still got some work to do. They haven't been able to look at the gas meters inside the building which they’ll now be able to do.