City officials plan to reopen today a section of 31st Street that has been closed since May.
The street has been closed to protect people from passing by a second-story wall of the former Russo Building that was severely cracked by a suspected arson fire.
With a crane, Earthmovers Unlimited of Kylertown pulled that wall to the ground at 3031 S. Branch Ave., and city officials will set a lien on the building for the $7,480 cost of the project, City Planning Director Lee Slusser said.
"We appreciate people's patience," Slusser said. "It's been too long."
Slusser said work to reopen 31st Street was delayed by about seven weeks because the building owners hired an engineer to determine a way to salvage the building, then planned to raze the second floor with their own resources but changed their plans.
Earthmovers Unlimited President John Niebauer said he expects 31st Street to reopen when bricks are cleared from the street and stored behind the building today.
The city cannot afford to demolish the whole building, Slusser said. That would cost $500,000 to $750,000.
"It has steel framing, bricked-in columns. It's a beast," Slusser said.
Slusser said the owner, Napoli Recycling Corp. of East Norwich, N.Y., has discussed rebuilding it. Napoli declined to comment.
The building, a former slaughterhouse then storage place for salvaged building materials, has long been condemned.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.