Condemned buildings demolished in downtown Amboy

Workers tear down buildings on Southeast Avenue in downtown Amboy.

By BRANDON LaCHANCE

Amboy News reporter

AMBOY – Driving through downtown Amboy on Aug. 5, you may have been able to see the inside of the building at 65 Southeast Ave. from the outside.

What was once Mort’s Tap and other businesses beforehand, became a condemned building neighbors wanted to fix or replace.

After researching safety and health restrictions and maintenance costs, neighbor Long Branch, made an executive decision to have the building demolished.

“We had the opportunity to acquire the business next door to the Long Branch. Our goal was to expand the Long Branch and the type of services the Long Branch offers,” said Wendy Olson, who has owned the Long Branch with her husband Bob since 2006. “We had to make the decision to tear down the physical buildings that were right next door to the Long Branch for safety reasons.

“The Trackside building – which was actually two buildings, there is a third building, and then there is Mort’s – those four buildings have been lacking in maintenance. Ultimately, we had to make the decision to tear the buildings down because most of the buildings had deteriorated to a point, they were not safe or able to be repaired, both in physical and economic standpoints.

“Our goal is to preserve the nostalgia and the character of the previous businesses that have been on what is typically called, ‘Whiskey Row.’ It’s not just about Mort’s, it’s about all of the previous businesses. Where Trackside was, it used to be the Essence House, Lamb’s Pizza Place, Trackside, Wayne’s Trackside, and another pizza place.

“We want to preserve some of that, but we are trying to develop the area so our customers can enjoy an outdoor atmosphere. Through COVID-19, we realized we don’t offer outdoor seating and Amboy doesn’t have a bar or restaurant that offers an outdoor venue. It made sense to us to try to take some of the deteriorated buildings and turn them into an outdoor atmosphere and allow us to go down that avenue to better serve our great customers.”

The building that was at 63 Southeast Ave. (Trackside) was torn down in April and the demolition of 65 Southeast Ave. will be finished in August.

The future landscape is still a work in progress as Olson is taking all suggestions of what could replace the condemned, historical buildings.

Although the exact details are not set in stone, the goal and overall plan is in motion.

“We are all saddened. It’s kind of a historical downtown in Amboy,” Olson said. “It’s sad and somewhat disheartening. But our intentions are to preserve the nostalgia of the past, while making a beautiful improvement to downtown and providing outdoor dining and maybe a recreational area.”

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