As you may have seen on TMJ4 TV last night, a judge is allowing the city to move ahead with demolition of the Sahagian Auto Body property as early as July 16.
As our city attorney states in the story, the property at 1115 College Ave. has become unsafe and blighted, and after years of attempting to work with the owner to clean it up, our last resort is to move for razing.
I respect very much Pete Sahagian and the business he built there. But property owners have a responsibility to maintain their properties to a minimum standard. That hasn’t happened here.
Now, with an unsafe and non-compliant roof on the building and other issues that continue to go unaddressed, the cost of repair (estimated at $40,000) nearly equals the assessed value of the building ($42,000, with improvements). And it’s clear there aren’t the funds available – either from Pete or Waterstone Bank, which acquired the property through a foreclosure action in 2010 – to make the necessary fixes.
With that in mind, and given years of unheeded orders to repair the building, the city council made a decision to move ahead with removing the structures on the site. I stand behind it.
Pete and Waterstone Bank will continue to own the property once the demolition is complete, and the city has no plans to acquire it. This is simply a property maintenance issue — and about our belief as a city, and mine as mayor, that we must step up our game when it comes to the condition of properties.
We have to be fair and willing to work with owners of properties in bad condition, and we have here. But we also have to enforce our ordinances and do what’s best for our city. We are doing it with Sahagian Auto Body.