Town officials, public see for themselves how some sections must come down
By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Oct. 19, 2023) Berlin residents regularly drive by the old Tyson’s Processing Plant on Old Ocean City Boulevard, but most have never been inside. On Tuesday night last week, that changed as Andrew Welch, a senior structural engineer from DBF of Salisbury, and Mayor Zack Tyndall provided a tour for council members and some members of the public to see the inside of the building.
“I have been in the building about a half a dozen times,” Tyndall said. “I keep hoping it’s going to get better, but it gets worse.”
Based on the information provided by Welch, the mayor hopes to have ready for the Town Council’s first November meeting a draft of a request for proposals for partial demolition of the building.
The idea behind the tour was to show officials and members of the public what might be worth saving and what would not. After putting on their hard hats and entering the dark recesses of the building, they could see for themselves.
What the group saw was a building that has been heavily vandalized, with graffitied walls, broken windows and toilets, and paint peeling off the walls.
One take away from Councilman Steve Green was that the building is open and easy to get into, which is a liability concern. He suggested the town focus on closing the building more securely.
It appeared that people are accessing the building on the railroad track side. A metal table is stationed next to the fence that can be used to jump over the fence and land on a Dumpster on the other side.
The building is divided into numerous sections. The front area that faces Old Ocean City Boulevard includes office space, a cafeteria, locker room and bathrooms. Behind that is the “Picking Room” and “Live Receiving.” Two large rooms on the parking lot side are processing rooms and have large drains cut into the floors. At the back of the building is a large cooler room and shipping docks.
The engineers have prioritized the building into zones.
Tyndall said the middle section of the building is a high priority for demolition. The metal joists in the ceiling are heavily corroded, according to the engineer, which reduces its load bearing capacity by at least 50 percent.
The offices in the front of the building are more structurally sound, as are the loading docks.
“If the right partner was there, maybe it could be repurposed,” Tyndall said. “A good portion of the building is falling apart.”
An updated appraisal of parcel 57, where the Tyson building stands, was conducted by Opteon Appraisal in August. That appraisal assessed the property at $1.2 million as B2 business zoning, based on the assumption that demolition of the building would be complete.
“It is unlikely that demo funds will be able to bring the building down entirely so the space could be usable. Two sections of the building will remain, with the middle cut out because we don’t have the money to demo the whole thing.”
The grant the town has acquired from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is for $500,000. It’s been estimated that it will cost about $50,000 to get the request for proposals out, which leaves $450,000 for the demolition. That amount is not expected to cover the cost of a full demolition of the building.
Tyndall said it is possible that more than one company could bid on specific zones of the building to demolish, as a way to maximize funding.