Owner uses attention-grabbing sign to market downtown Marietta property

Photo by Michael Kelly A sign saying “free building” sits in the window of the former Wine Shop on Front Street in downtown Marietta. The building, which has notable structural problems, is being offered at no charge by the owner, but the land on which it sits is priced at $20,000.

MARIETTA — Bradley Bole’s plan to get rid of a downtown Marietta building that has been in his family for many years has gotten attention, and that was his intent.

For about a week the display window of the building that once housed The Wine Shop at 162 Front St. has held a large sign reading “Free Building.” The two-story brick structure has been vacant since at least 2005, Bole said Wednesday, and has been plagued with structural problems.

A look at the building discloses crumbling brick at the base of the walls, and the city fire department has placed a large red-and-white “X” sign on it, warning firefighters not to enter if they respond to a fire.

The city has been urging the owners for several years to fix the building, and the alley next to it has been closed because falling bricks at one time created a hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Bole, a financial advisor at Concord Wealth Management in Marietta, said the property had been sold at one time on a land contract.

Photo by Michael Kelly The alley next to The Wine Shop building has been closed by the city as a hazard because at one time bricks were occasionally falling from the wall of the vacant structure.

“That fell through because the owner failed to maintain the building,” Bole said. “It deteriorated rather significantly, and because it’s in a flood plain it’s rather difficult to bring back. I have no interest in it, the city has concerns, and I’m trying to move it along to somebody who can do something with it.”

The property is not entirely free, he added — the building is being offered at no cost to the buyer, but the land on which it sits is priced at $20,000.

“It’s a genuine offer,” he said. “Oh yeah, the building is in very bad shape, but it’s on a nice piece of downtown property on Front Street and I want some money for the land.”

The sign has gotten attention.

“Believe me, that’s why I did it,” he said. For further information, the sign refers prospective buyers to Facebook Markets, where the property is shown for $20,000.

Photo by Michael Kelly The building which housed The Wine Shop but has been vacant for more than a decade is being offered for free by the owner, but the land is priced at $20,000. It includes alley access and parking in the rear.

“The number of people who have looked at it is amazing, 669 since I refreshed the page over the weekend,” he said.

He said the people he has talked to had the idea of just moving in and opening a new business, but the building would need extensive repairs to do that.

“I’ve had a couple of serious conversations but nothing more than passing interest,” he said.

The building next door to it also is for sale.

“I’ve had a little bit of input from people interested in both properties,” Bole said. “The Wine Shop alone might require too much money, but if it could be symbiotic with the other building, it might make a very nice piece of property downtown.”

Marietta City Council member Kathy Downer said her main concern is getting the alley next to the building re-opened.

“Mahone’s, who own the building across the alley, did some repairs, so it can be done,” she said. “For things like festivals downtown, they want to use for it staging.”

Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp said the building came on the city’s radar as the result of a complaint filed several years ago, suggesting that it had structural problems.

“The city engineer and fire chief went down to take a look and determined that the south wall, bordering the alley, was weak, compromised and bowed … the city issued a letter to the owner, which we thought at the time was Dr. Roger Anderson, but he said he didn’t own it,” he said. “We turned it over to the city law director.”

Hupp said the alley and back of the property was closed off. A later inspection determined that the building would be unsafe to enter in the event of a fire, and the “X” sign was affixed to the building to warn fire crews to stay out.

“It’s unfortunate that it has fallen into disrepair, but that’s what happens when you’re dealing with the oldest city in the Northwest Territory,” Hupp said.

City law director Paul Bertram said the city has explored all legal avenues and is in discussions about actions that might be taken, although he said he couldn’t disclose what they are.

Bertram said if the property changes hands, the new owner would have to be notified in detail about the problems with the building.

“The thing that bothers a lot of people in the city is that it’s historical, and the last thing we want to have is another building razed,” he said. “There are discussions under way.”