The process to demolish parts of the historic Whitt Print building that began Thursday was halted briefly when a structural beam meant to remain was damaged.

“The engineer told everybody to stop [and] they’re reassessing that piece [to] fix it and modify the stabilization,” said Michael Shannon, director of the city’s Development Services. “They found that some of the connections that they thought were good were not as good.”

But stabilization and demolition continue on other parts of a building that was at the center of a recent battle between residents who want to see the dilapidated building preserved and the owner who had requested permission to raze it.

On June 2, the Historic and Design Review Commission voted unanimously to follow City staff recommendations to preserve the building facade and address portions of the structure that are unstable.

The plan reviewed by Shannon’s staff calls for a two-story, nonhistoric structure on the south end of the Whitt building to be completely demolished. That work is nearly complete. The north-facing facade has been stabilized and the roof is being removed, Shannon said. 

City Council member Teri Castillo (D5) and her policy director, Justin Rentería, look at what remains of the old Whitt Printing Co. building Thursday after crews started a demolition project. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The demolition contractor is following the plan as it was approved weeks ago, he added. When damage occurred to the structural beam on the west wall, work stopped and the engineers have already submitted a revised analysis and a modified bracing plan.

“It’s truly disappointing,” said Susana Mendez Segura, who said she spoke with city staff about her concerns earlier in the day. “I told him I was shocked that they didn’t do a piece of the wall for discovery before they did all that damage.”

Shannon said city staff from both the Office of Historic Preservation and Development Services have met with the contractor and the structural engineers many times in recent weeks to go over the demolition plans, and since it began they are on-site “constantly monitoring and working with the engineering contractor to make sure they follow the plan,” he said.

“Even a partial demolition, which is what’s happening, is very messy, it looks very ugly, so we just need to ensure that the contractor is going very slow.”

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.