The Investigation continues, but the property is to be released back to the owner Doug Wells.
The Aug. 4 fire that gutted the Tama Complex in downtown Burlington remains under investigation, but the property was expected to be released to the owner by the end of the day Friday.
Eric Tysland, community development and parks director for the city, said with the release of the building, structural engineers will be able to evaluate what needs to be done to reopen the cordoned-off portions of Jefferson and North Third streets around the building.
It is unclear how long it will be until those streets are open.
"It kind of depends on what they need to do," Tysland said. "If the building's OK as is, then it's a matter of getting stuff cleaned up and moving the fence back. If there's stability that needs to be added to it, whether it's bracing or something else, it might take a little bit longer."
Trace Lawless, a senior investigator for Grinnell Mutual Insurance Co., said he could not speak on the matter because the fire remains under investigation. Des Moines-based architect Doug Wells, who owns the complex, did not return messages seeking comment Friday. Having bought out Keokuk real estate lawyer Kevin Kuckelman's share of the property in 2017, Wells is the sole developer for the project.
The release of the property suggests the on-site investigation has wrapped up. It is unclear whether the $10,000 reward Grinnell Mutual began offering for information that could help identify the cause of the fire yielded any results.
"(Investigators) didn't want any of the building disturbed if there's any other evidence or investigation that needed to be done," Tysland said. "Once (Wells) gets possession, he can move forward with clean-up and demolition or clean-up and restoration of the site."
Burlington Fire Marshal Mark Crooks said the fire department has turned over the investigation to insurance company investigators. The last time he was able to enter the building, which was early on in the investigation, he was able to get to the fifth floor of the Tama Building.
"It's a mess, that's for sure," he said.
Burlington firefighters were forced to leave behind equipment in the building when temperatures became too hot to tolerate. On Friday, a fire hose could be seen on the outer edge of the debris on the complex's north side.
Whether parts of the building will be salvageable is unknown at this time. The complex was nearing completion of a $12.5 million restoration project when the two buildings caught fire. About $7.5 million of the budget came from grants and a Community Development Block Grant loan.
Tysland said Wells has indicated he intends to try to rebuild on the site.