City officials agreed to form a task force to assist in resolving not only an esthetic issue, but a public safety concern on private property.

Occupants in the downtown business area say brick, mortar and shards of glass are tumbling from the Professional Building, a privately owned structure that stands six stories tall at the corner of South Main Street and First Street SE.

City baracades have been placed on the north side of the building to discourage pedestrians from walking on the sidewalk near the structure.

Andrew Johnsen, owner of the building, recently hired laborers to board broken windows to prevent any further falling of glass, according to Larry Eller, community development grant coordinator for the City of Miami.

The work was done in response to directives issued from the city's code enforcement office.

City officials say that Johnsen works in Sweden and spends much of his time out of the country. In the meantime, the 90-year-old Professional Building continues to deteriorate.

Eller proposed the formation of the task force to the council on Monday and is now recruiting volunteers to seek alternatives for the building.

“The task force will travel to neighboring communities and talk with officials there to see what those communities have done with similar buildings, Eller said.

Miami City Manager Michael Spurgeon voiced his concerns Monday and said the situation had reached “critical mass.

Eller said rehabilitation is an option for the property but would be costly as he estimated that refurbishment could cost $3million to $5 million.

Options for the building include commercial use, housing or a mix of both, according to Eller.

Demolition is also an option to be considered.

City engineer Jerry Ruse said demolition of the building would cost an estimated $500,000.

If the building is removed, the lot would accommodate approximately 10 parking places, according to Ruse.

“It is time to put our thinking caps on, Eller said. “The building could be an asset to our city. Certainly, right now, it isn't.

Anyone interested in serving on the task force should contact Eller at 541-2300.