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Lakewood examining building codes after Marine Towers West parking garage collapse

Lakewood examining building codes after Marine Towers West parking garage collapse

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Roughly a month after the Marine Towers West parking garage collapse damaged dozens of vehicles and — miraculously — injured no one, Lakewood continues to investigate the incident.

So far, the city has filed initial charges against the involved parties for commencing work on the parking garage without securing permits from the city. The Dec. 23 collapse also displaced 100 residents.

Mayor Meghan George told City Council last week that multiple departments are working with the administration to thoroughly review ordinances and develop a set of recommendations.

The Marine Towers West parking garage in Lakewood collapsed on Dec. 23. (John Benson/

“After the collapse at Marine Towers West, we wanted to look and review our building codes to make sure they were fitting,” George said. “We’re going to be providing to council within the next couple of meetings recommended changes to our building code.

“For instance, we’re looking at a façade ordinance where buildings over a certain height need to have their exteriors inspected by a registered architect or structural engineer and submit that to our building department once every three years.”

A similar approach is being considered with a parking garage ordinance, which requires owners of large parking structures — 10 spaces or more — to regularly submit to the Lakewood Building Department an inspection by a registered architect or structural engineer.

George estimated that there are probably a minimum of a dozen such garages in the city. This includes the main garage located in downtown Lakewood.

The mayor said the criminal code is also being reviewed, with an increase in penalty expected for “extreme violators.”

“We want to put this in our toolbox so those offenders who do something so egregious we have a stricter penalty that we can enforce if necessary,” George said.

“Our building department has been doing a good job, when possible, proactively working with building ownership to get in there and inspect them. But we can’t just inspect a garage on private property willy-nilly unless we get some sort of warrant.

“So those places we’re trying to build relationships and work with building management to get into them to ensure safety.”

In addition to reviewing Lakewood’s codes, the mayor said her administration has been examining how larger municipalities such as Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati zone large buildings and parking garages.

The Marine Towers West parking garage collapsed on Dec. 23 in Lakewood

The Marine Towers West parking garage in Lakewood collapsed Dec. 23. (John Benson/

While the updating of the zoning codes is important, it’s moot if property owners hire contractors who don’t pull permits and notify the city of planned work.

“… The major problem with the Marine Towers West collapse is that they were doing work in the building without notifying the city,” George said. “We could have any kind of ordinance on the books, but if people aren’t going about (construction) properly, things like the Marine Tower West garage could happen.

“We need to reiterate: Make sure everybody — contractors, property owners — knows that when you work in Lakewood, you need to get a building permit.”

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