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Magna Main Street businesses still closed, assessing damage after earthquake

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 00:32:25-04

MAGNA, Utah — Owners of buildings on Magna Main Street damaged in Wednesday's earthquake returned to Main Street Thursday, to see what it'll take to get back up and running.

A several-block span of the street is still shut down to the public, and none of the businesses are open.

The historic Main Street is a unique corner of the Salt Lake Valley. Most of the buildings date back a century.

"A lot of people don't know about downtown Magna," building owner Brandis Touhuni said. "It's kind of the heart of our community."

Except right now, there's a different kind of history on Magna Main-- one made just a day ago.

"It was a little bit of a gut punch," said Charlie Colosimo. "But, we realized that this building is not a spring chicken."

Colosimo and his brother own Colosimo's Standard Market, which has been open in their Main Street building since 1961. Colosimo explained that his dad started the business as a grocery store and deli, but evolved into a sausage, seasonings and equipment company.

They've managed to survive recessions and big-box store competition. It took an earthquake to shut the business down, even if temporarily.

"It's been red-flagged for right now," Colosimo said. "And what you see behind me, the structural damage, is the biggest blow that we've taken."

Down the street from Colosimo's, damage to the building next door to the Empress Theater, is even worse.

Decals on the window advertise a record store, which owner Brandis Touhuni indicated are from when the building was used in the Disney Channel TV show, Andi Mack.

Even though the building is currently empty, she explained that a couple was set to lease the space and open a motorcycle parts store next month.

Now, that's not going to happen.

Touhuni said she hasn't been allowed inside yet. She hasn't been able to see the full scope of the damage.

"We're waiting now for the county to tell us pretty much what to do," she said. "We're waiting for an engineer to let us know if we have to bulldoze it down, or if it can be fixed."

Even if it can be fixed, it's going to be a challenge moving forward.

"Unfortunately, us and pretty much everyone else we've talked to on Magna Main, doesn't have earthquake insurance," she said.

Touhuni questioned where they could get help from, and if FEMA or the City of Magna would have options.

Touhuni also owns a dog grooming business in a building across an empty lot from her building. Because Main Street is closed, so is her business. She said they were completely booked this week, as people get in appointments while they can during all the COVID-19 restrictions.

She's hoping those clients can reschedule, and they can re-open next week.

Touhuni and Colosimo know Magna is, historically, a different kind of town.

"We feel like we're in a small town and everybody knows each other, and everybody helps each other," Touhuni said.

They've got support to lean on, and people in the community who are concerned.

Even if this event is a huge step back for Magna's history, these businesses and building owners are determined to move forward.

Colosimo said the inside of the building was "pristine," with no structural damage. He expects repairs on the outside to go quickly, and he said he hopes to reopen on Wednesday-- in six days.

"You take a deep breath and you say, 'Okay, yeah. It looks bad, but we'll rebuild it and we'll go on,'" Colosimo said.

"Everybody: Take care of each other," Touhuni said. "And hopefully we'll get through this together."