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November 07, 2019

Brooks Building Neighbors Remain in Limbo

May 2, 2019

     A representative for the owner of the buildings adjacent to the Brooks Jewelry building destroyed by a Feb. 11 fire said tenant businesses are still hoping to return to the location but cannot yet proceed with rebuilding.


     The damage to the Brooks building at 598 W. Main St. in El Centro caused its owner to tear it down in April. The fire was ruled an arson but no suspects have been identified, city officials said.


     The Brooks building had housed El Dorado Printing and Embroidery whose owner, Jacob Zavala, has not commented on the fate of the business.


     However, several businesses in the neighboring structures at 584 and 588 W. Main suffered water damage forcing owners to relocate. 


     "They're still waiting for an estimate from the insurance adjuster," said Rick McManus, an agent for his son, Paul McManus, who owns the properties.


     The 588 address is where the Gold & Diamond Exchange was. Lonnie Main, who leases his space from McManus and is manager for the two properties, currently operates out of Simply at Home, a nearby antiques store. Main previously said he had cleaned debris from his former location by the end February.


     "The insurance company is key and we're just waiting," said McManus. "Financially every project is a little different. But they'll let us know when they come up with the numbers. The insurance company is in full control."


     Other tenants experiencing water damage were The Chopping Block hair salon and the offices of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2554 union that represents 630 area agents. McManus noted the council would also like to return to its former location.


     Some adjacent businesses are either moving on or appear to have been forced out of business, at least temporarily.


     Chopping Block owner Carolyn Vigil said she relocated her business five weeks ago to 485 Broadway, suite A,  just a few blocks away from her former location. Prior to that, a neighboring salon had given her space to serve clients.


     "Had I stayed at the old address I would have been out of business by now," Vigil said recently. "But I love it here, it's much brighter. There's more options for parking and no problems with the building."


     Josie's Lingerie, an apparel and accessory store at 115 N. Sixth St. was forced to abandon its premises because of water damage. Owner Josie Alvarez was contacted by phone and said she is not currently selling her merchandise and has not located an alternative space. Calls to Bertha's School Uniforms that was located at 117 N. Sixth St. were answered with a recorded message the number is no longer in service.

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