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Doom awaits eyesore at steel plant

Old melt shop to go; local businessman says everyone gains


– Starting Monday morning, work crews will begin tearing down an ugly, outdated piece of an old steel plant, removing an eyesore and, a local businessman says, making money for everyone involved.

The building in question is the 55,000-square-foot melt shop at 2400 Taylor Street that is part of Valbruna Slater Stainless Inc.

It dates to the early 1900s and hasn’t been used in more than 10 years.

For the past six months or so, local businessman Jerry Henry said he’s been talking with the company about the building, which he claims is liable to fall if it isn’t torn down.

That stretch of Taylor Street is an industrial area that sees heavy industrial use, Henry said, but it also serves as a corridor to the southwest part of Fort Wayne.

Other businesses have been vocal about improving the area, Henry said.

So he approached the company, saying that he could tear the building down at no cost to Valbruna and sell the scrap metal.

“Scrap value is so high, numerous buildings are being torn down” and recycled, he said. “Today, you can take a steel building, and if you properly market the metal, which I know how to do,” it can be very profitable.

Henry said he and Valbruna officials have talked at length.

“I said, ‘Let me give you a number. I’ll tear it down, I’ll recycle the concrete,’ ” he said.

In the end, Henry said, the company agreed that he’d tear the building down and actually write a check to Valbruna.

“It’s win-win. The city wins, the neighborhood wins, Valbruna wins, we prepare the site for a new building,” Henry said.

“The scrap is going to Steel Dynamics, which is a local company,” he added.

Work will probably start by mid-morning Monday.

Henry said he has a half-dozen of his own torch cutters and will partner with Geiger Excavating to tear the place down.

The entire project, Henry said, will probably take four to six months.

In the past few years, Henry has also rejuvenated a number of local industrial buildings, including the old Falstaff Brewery and the old Fruehauf plant.