The last standing section of the former Jean Burns Building in downtown Nanaimo fell prey to the jaws of excavators on the weekend. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

UPDATE: Excavators move in to crush former downtown restaurant site

The final section of the former Jean Burns Building was reduced to rubble over the weekend

The sightlines at the intersection of Commercial Street and Terminal Avenue changed again Monday as the rubble of the last remaining portion of the former Jean Burns building was cleared away.

Excavators moved in over the weekend to demolish the section of the building that was home to Acme Foods Co. It was also one of the oldest sections of the building and was originally an automotive service station that opened in 1915.

Cleanup operations started last week, along with removal of any potentially hazardous building materials. The building was heavily damaged by fire in 2016 and most of it was torn down in March.

Rick Hyne, Crankshaw Holdings’ operating officer, said in an interview Tuesday that the site would be cleared of debris by Friday, Nov. 10, but some structural components of the site will have to remain to support sidewalks.

“The retaining walls and some structural members that are going to be left until we can get some other people in there to take a look at the structure and give us some idea of what it’s all made of and what its purposes are, where do we go from here and how do we take it down and how do we rebuild, if we’re going to go that route and things like that,” Hyne said.

Any future plans for the site are still up in the air and everything is on the table. If Crankshaw Holdings were to rebuild, its best option, from a cost recovery perspective, would be to build a structure at least six storeys tall.

Much depends upon the outcome of an ongoing battle Crankshaw Holdings is having with its insurance provider, which could pay to rebuild a replacement structure or offer a cash payout that would leave Crankshaw holdings free to pursue a range of possibilities within the limitations imposed by the size and shape of the pie-shaped lot, combined with modern setback requirements and site restrictions.

“For the time being right now, we are reacting,” Hyne said. “We’ve been reacting since March 30. Now that this is down, we can swing around and start pro-acting, so we can take a look at what our options are – sell, build or whatever – depending on what the other stakeholders want to do, that would be Jack’s [company owner Jack Ball] family, and do they want to do something with it, or do we sell of the land or what?”

The goal for the moment, he said, is to clean up the site and make it safe.

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