Looking deeper into the buildings in Italy’s downtown

Image: Italy Community Center Roof — Photo taken during inspection of roof in January 2007.

Italy Community Center Roof — Photo taken during inspection of roof in January 2007. (c. 2007 Mike South)

Having only lived here in Italy for 20 years, I know that I am a newbie. But over my lifetime I have learned a lot. One of the things I think I have learned is a bit about life. Now what I am going to say will offend some — but there is a time for new as well as old.

We are in the 21st century. It is time to move into it. The old buildings dating back to the turn of the 19th to the 20th century need to be examined and upgraded or replaced. I saw Italy described as a “depression era cotton town”. When I read that I thought wow — we need to upgrade. We need to get into the 21st century. As you drive down our main street all you can say is old. You can not say well maintained. You can not say classic or classy. The buildings are old and little. They fit a bygone era and place.

So when it is suggested that a bunch of money be spent fixing and upgrading you have to ask to what. The buildings are generally very small for modern commercial buildings. The parking is also very small.

It is an old town with very little impetus to make someone want to set up shop there. Now lets talk about the construction. The pictures with this article show the roof of the community center/resale shop. It is one building with two halves. Neither half is large enough for a serious business. Oh they are large enough for a nice office but does Italy need that nice office. The building is in serious need of serious repair. Can it be repaired? —Yes but at what cost and for what reason? If the two uses were combined (the community center and the resale shop) there would be enough space for a single serious use. But at what cost?

The building is built as two units in one facade. The structural components are for short span small buildings. If the two buildings were gutted and the walls reinforced with reinforced concrete and the roof redone with complete new structural system the building could be made to look like the old building. But that also adds questions. Modern buildings are mostly one story. A small building like that has a difficult time affording the elevator require by code. So do we cut the height or just leave a very high ceiling. It would depend on what it was to be used for.

If you look carefully at the rear and side walls you can see they are doing some moving. This concerns me. Patching is not a good option. So the time is now. What is to be done? One serious answer is to abandon downtown in favor of a new downtown maybe out towards the freeway.

I think the owners of the downtown buildings need to be talked with and see if they have ideas and funds to do serious upgrades.

It is now time to get into the 21st century.