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Merrimon Ave. building cordoned off from public access

A large sinkhole formed in front of this building on Merrimon Ave | photo courtesy City of Asheville

City of Asheville staff paid another visit to the commercial building on Merrimon Avenue last week, a day after flash floods in the neighboring Fresh Market shopping center.

The area directly in front of the vacant building is the site of a large sinkhole that opened June 19 after a stormwater pipe running under the structure collapsed.

The Asheville Fire Department first visited the site on June 20 and the City posted the building as unsafe for occupancy on June 27.

City employees advised the property owner to secure the site to prevent the public access, after which a chain-link fence was installed around the site with “no trespassing” signs.

Although emergency repairs were made to protect the structure using rock and gravel “fill”, according to the City of Asheville, materials used in that effort “washed into the nearby bird sanctuary/wetlands” resulting in a Notice of Violation from the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The building owner’s plan for a permanent repair is to replace the pipe from the catch basin in front of Ski Country Sport to a new junction box at the property line of 1010 Merrimon Ave. and Early Girl Eatery.

However, an engineering team contracted by the property owner says it could take a month for the materials to be fabricated and delivered to the site.

The City said a temporary fix, essentially a bypass pipe, will be secured with large stones topped with coarse gravel “to keep the pipe in place and help support the building.”