Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer McDonald confirmed that a chain link fence going up on the west, Royal Avenue side of the Afton Inn is a safety fence. That fence will facilitate demolition of the one-story annex section added to the building’s main structure in the 1950’s.
The original building, opened in 1868 as the Montview Hotel, is 150 years old and is believed to be downtown Front Royal’s oldest remaining commercial structure. After a year of controversy over an initially-announced demolition-rebuild plan endorsed by the Front Royal Town Council and current building owner the EDA, in April the EDA and project developer 2 East Main Street LLC announced an altered plan including preservation of the brick exterior of the original structure.
Workers began putting the safety fence up midday Tuesday, July 31.
McDonald said a timeframe on the start of the initial work at the site has yet to be determined pending final permitting. County Building Inspector David Beahm confirmed Wednesday that he had received notice from the Front Royal Planning and Zoning Department that day that all utilities to the Afton Inn had been turned off.
However, Beahm said he was still waiting to receive confirmation of asbestos abatement in any impacted portions of the building prior to permitting the start of annex structure demolition. That confirmation will not come from the Town, but rather either the building owner – still the EDA through completion of the demo-renovation project – or the contracting partner and eventual owner 2 East Main Street LLC.
Removal of any asbestos within a structure is required prior to major work such as demolition to assure asbestos contaminants are not spread into the air. Once a popular insulation, sound and fire retardant material used in construction, asbestos was linked to myriad health hazards, including various lung diseases and cancers including mesothelioma by the 1960’s and ‘70’s. OSHA began regulating asbestos in 1972.
According to online research asbestos abatement must be done by a contractor licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for asbestos removal. There are specific criteria required to seal of the affected area from other portions of buildings and the outside environment.
Contacted late Wednesday, EDA Director McDonald said the asbestos abatement work had been contracted by 2 East Main LLC. She believed the contracted company was “Asbestco”. Berryville architect Jim Burton of 2 East Main LLC could not be reached for confirmation late Wednesday afternoon.