Owners of a North Regal Street warehouse destroyed by a fire in September have largely ignored orders to tear the building down, according to Spokane Code Enforcement.
As such, the city is taking steps to demolish 801 N. Regal St. through a process that would apply the costs for demolition and asbestos abatement – estimated at $469,900 – as a property tax lien split proportionately across the two properties the building occupies, said Jason Ruffing, code enforcement supervisor.
Legislation to foot that bill was reviewed Monday by the Spokane City Council’s Finance and Administration Committee.
The fire at the former S&P Meats warehouse started Sept. 26 and burned through the night.
The blaze left the building with a collapsed roof and significant structural and electrical system damage, according to code enforcement reports. Reports also indicated the warehouse was previously damaged by a fire in August, while water service has remained inactive since at least November 2016.
The warehouse occupies two properties, with the larger, approximately 44,000-square-foot parcel owned by Regal District LLC, an inactive Tacoma-based entity whose principal is listed as Aaron Stewart, according to state records. That property already has a preexisting lien against it, while Regal District is also behind in paying property taxes, Ruffing said.
An adjacent, approximately 7,000-square-foot property is owned by Andy Louie of Spokane.
Neither Stewart nor Louie could be immediately reached for comment.
Property owners failed to comply with orders issued in October to fence and demolish the building, Ruffing said, resulting in an administrative hearing the following month that set a Dec. 8 deadline for the submission of a demolition plan.
Ruffing said the city has received “limited submittals” from Louie, but nothing the city’s building official could review or approve.
“There has been very limited response from the primary owner – from the representative of the LLC,” Ruffing said. “I think maybe three total emails since we started the case here.”
In February, the Spokane Clean Air Agency detected asbestos in “limited sampling” of the site, Ruffing said.
The diagnosis, the building’s size and the extent of the damage are the primary factors into why the demolition is estimated to cost nearly a half-million dollars, he said. Because an asbestos abatement company cannot safely survey the building due to the damage, Ruffing said the parties involved have to presume the entire structure has asbestos.
The cost of putting in a fence around the building was applied as a lien against the properties.
The estimated cost for demolition and asbestos abatement, meanwhile, is more than the worth of both properties combined, Ruffing said.
“What happens from there could be a variety of things. Oftentimes, it does become a city-owned property, but it does go through the tax foreclosure process first,” he said. “So the assumption is the city is abating a public safety hazard and the assumption is that the ownership is going to pay that lien and make the taxpayers whole.
“If that doesn’t occur, we go through the property tax process to recoup costs and whatever other legal remedies there might be.”
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