CUYAHOGA FALLS — A circular building with an unusual design is being demolished on Portage Trail, but the landowner said he does not have any specific plans for the site once it’s vacant.

City spokeswoman Kelli Crawford-Smith said the demolition at 1625 Portage Trail is not connected to the city’s construction of a new Fire Station 3 on neighboring property.

Joel Testa, president of Testa Cos., said his firm purchased the site a couple of years ago as part of a larger acquisition that included then-vacant land where the recently opened Falls Laser Wash now sits. The car wash lot was split off from the land that contained the four-story circular building.

He said his firm worked on trying to bring the building “back to life,” but the challenge proved too much because the structure had sat vacant without utilities for several years.

“It just completely deteriorated the inside of the building, to the point where it was unsafe,” Testa said. “It had asbestos and black mold and kids had been breaking in and vandalizing it. ... We were sort of forced to take it down.”

Testa said the artist who created the artwork on the side of the building recently passed away. Testa noted his company had contacted the artist’s daughter to discuss ways they could preserve the work he created for the building.

He said that one panel with a design has been preserved and efforts are being made to save three other ones. He said he will try to publicly display the panels as a “continuing form of art and sort of a homage to the history of the building.” The concrete panels are each about 4 feet wide and about 12 feet tall.

He said he had drones take overhead photos of the building for the artist’s family.

“We’re doing our best to sort of preserve the history of it,” Testa said.

He said he does not have any plans for the site, which will be marketed for redevelopment.

In 1959, a group of Falls doctors led by Dr. Fred Somma formed Port-Haven Associates Inc., which hired Kamenir-Hamed Architects to design a “modern medical facility,” according to www.cuyahogafallshistory.com.

Akron Savings & Loan financed Ernest Alessio Construction Co.’s construction of the $1.1 million building.

 

Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.