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Quake Safety Questioned at Proposed Library Site

March 16, 1986|ARMANDO ACUNA | Times Staff Writer

A preliminary report by the San Diego Building Inspection Department has raised questions about whether the vacated Sears department store in the Hillcrest area--which is being considered as a location for a new central library--is strong enough to withstand a major earthquake.

William Sannwald, the city's library director, said Saturday that the report is "disappointing" because "we could be in for a lot of money" to bring the store up to required earthquake-safety standards.

It's already estimated that it may cost the city as least $8 million to buy the 12-acre site at 1290 Cleveland Ave. from Sears. And while the preliminary report questioned the structure's ability to withstand a major quake, it didn't say how much it would cost to renovate the building.

"It's fine as a department store . . . but it's something else as a library," said Sannwald, describing the report which was given to the City Council late Friday afternoon by the city manager's office.

A full report will be released this week, he said, and a City Council committee is scheduled to meet April 16 to discuss using the Sears store, which closed its doors for the last time Saturday.

The preliminary report emphasized two things, Sannwald said. First, it said that the 33-year-old store doesn't meet today's earthquake-safety building standards. Second, the report said the building can't support the great weight of books contained in a large library.

The city is looking to move its central library from 820 E St. to a new location or to take on a major renovation of the E Street facility, which is old, small and in bad repair.

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