Knocked down: Burned-out building demolished

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 4, 2016

The old building on 218 Alabama Ave., once home to a restaurant, a bakery and a karate studio, is gone.

In its place is a concrete slab. Piles of concrete debris circle the slab. Boards, with nails, are scattered across the lots. Bricks, once walls, are now piled on pallets and wrapped in plastic, ready for resale somewhere else.

In weeks, public works director James Hall said even these items will be gone.

“It’ll be two weeks before they’re cleaned up with everything,” he said.

But that may not be the end of the story.

It has been two years since a fire of mysterious origin tore through the building. It has been months since a loose wall fell onto some used cars at a lot next door.

Since the last incident in December, the city council authorized Air Pro Heating and Cooling LLC to demolish the building. Hall said the company’s bill, for $40,000, will now be sent along to the building’s owner, Stacy Busby.

Busby has said he will sue the city, because he alleges the city demolished his building without just cause.

Mayor Wendy Perrette denies this. She said Busby was given as much time as anyone else, and the building was demolished according to a regular legal process that included time for him to repair the building.

“It went through the condemnation proceedings,” she said, in January. “He was given 90 days or 180 days to come into compliance with the building and he didn’t follow the procedures that were necessary. And then it fell, and nothing was done about it.”

Busby declined to comment earlier this week, saying his attorney advised him against public statements.

“At this point, it’s probably best that I really don’t say anything,” Busby said.