Former Penn’s building in Decatur to be torn down

DECATUR, Ala. - It's been over seven months since the former Gridiron building in downtown Decatur took a beating from a rough storm that blew through town.

The damage was bad enough to shut down a long-time burger restaurant inside, and workers will soon tear down the building.

On a busy weekday afternoon, there's plenty of traffic on Moulton Street in Decatur, but one building remains dark.

"It is the history of Decatur, no question about that," Douglas Coshow said.

The sign is gone and everything of use inside the old CF Penn's Hamburger restaurant has been removed.

"I have good friends who lived and died for Penn's," Coshow said. "They drove all the way from Moulton for a Penn's hamburger."

"People from Huntsville will ask, 'Hey are you coming to Huntsville, can you bring back Penn's?'" Jerry Miller said.

The building's roof was severely damaged in the April 3rd storm. City inspectors condemned the building. And in that time, the building has sat vacant. But longtime fans of Penn's held out hope the owner would find a new place to set up shop. So far, that hasn't happened.

"After considering all options, the owner chose to take the building down," Decatur's director of development Wally Terry said.

"I really do hate to see the building go, because it is a landmark," Miller said.

Terry says the building's owner spent months waiting on an insurance settlement, but opted to tear down the former Gridiron building rather than fix it up.

"There's a patio in the back, so it's a large lot with a lot of promise," Terry said.

Terry says the demolition won't begin until January so workers don't disrupt holiday foot traffic downtown. Right now, workers are removing asbestos tiles from the inside. So far, there are no future plans for the site.

News 19 left messages for CF Penns owner Robert Matthews as well as building owner HM Nowlin for this story, neither responded with a comment.


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