TRAVERSE CITY — The cause of a catastrophic collapse of a support column in a popular downtown eatery remains a mystery to area officials who await a review by national experts.
The Red Ginger restaurant on Front Street was full May 30 with a banquet for about 25 people on the second floor when the column began to crumble. The partial collapse left a two-foot gap in the column and the second and third floors sagging by as much as eight inches.
“We were just extremely grateful the whole ceiling and beam that went into that brick column didn’t fall into the main dining room or the people above didn’t fall into the dining room,” said Pam Marsh, Red Ginger co-owner.
A team of structural engineering investigators from the owner’s insurance company were to begin an assessment of the building either late Sunday or today, said Thom Darga, whose construction management firm manages the building for Pam and Dan Marsh. Darga said there is a lot of rumor and speculation but no one has drawn any conclusions.
“These are old buildings and they’ve gone through a lot of renovations,” Darga said. “To say it was one thing or another would be folly until it goes through a scientific analysis. This type of collapse is going to take some time to investigate.”
Darga said it was a miracle no one was injured in the incident.
Both Marsh and city Fire Chief Jim Tuller credited the Red Ginger staff.
“My commendation goes to the staff of the Red Ginger for their ability to get everybody out of the building in a quick and orderly manner,” Tuller said. “The staff were the heroes on this one.”
The State Theatre and Horizon Books share a common wall with Red Ginger and both were evacuated Friday and closed until further notice. State Theatre officials moved some films from the State to the Bijou by the Bay but for now they are just taking it day by day, said Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival which owns the theater.