Special Report: Caution, ceiling falling - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Special Report: Caution, ceiling falling

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At the world famous Rendezvous Restaurant in downtown Memphis, Calvin Bell has been serving up barbecue for 20 years. But what happened to Bell while he was at work recently left a bad taste in his mouth.
 
"The parking attendant came down and told me, 'Man, come up here right quick. Let me show you something,'" he said.
 
Bell rushed to the parking garage, located just outside the restaurant.
 
"I looked up and like a mountain of rocks was on top of my truck," he said.
 
Bell said that mountain of rocks came from the ceiling of the Central Parking Garage at 3rd and Monroe.
 
"It did a great deal of damage," he said.
 
The garage, built in 1947, is showing its age. Our investigation uncovered numerous gaping holes in the ceiling.

Another victim, Rendezvous waitress Joann McKee, suffered similar damage to her car.
 
"The huge piece of concrete had come right down my driver's window, down my driver's door," she said. "If I had been standing there, getting into my car or getting out, it would have hit me right in the head."
 
Rendezvous owner John Vergos doesn't want to lose the garage that's a stone's throw from his restaurant, but says falling stones just won't do.
 
"It's probably run its course and it needs some fairly significant improvements," he said of the garage.
 
Vergos added that Central Parking is aware of the problem, and he feels confident they'll do the right thing.
 
"I mean, they can't just let it deteriorate," he said.
 
Central Parking's regional manager in Memphis, Richard Wagner, said his company has been collecting bids as it tries to decide whether to remodel the garage or tear it down and start over.
 
"We want to take responsibility," he said. "We're gonna be looking to do something with that garage. We understand the condition."
 
The plan Central Parking chooses should be set in motion by this fall.  In the meantime, the company is paying claims for the damaged vehicles.
 
"They sent a check back and they took care of everything, no problem" Bell said.
 
But until the garage gets a facelift, McKee worries that falling concrete will land on a person, instead of a car.

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