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Hopeful seller gains forced building demolition reprieve

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2019 | Business & Commercial Law

The owner of a former grocery store obtained a brief victory over the City of Peoria in halting its demolition of a building sitting vacant since 1997. Claiming that the boarded-up property is a hazard to residents’ safety, city officials attempted to have it torn down due to its “neglected, damaged, dilapidated” existence. The owner of the building, however, has fought the city in court to keep it standing so that he could find a new buyer and sell the property for a profit.

When the building first opened during the 1960s in Old Town Peoria, the 83,000-square-foot supermarket was a flourishing business. It shuttered its doors in 1997, and its new owners purchased it for $3.5 million in 2006. The new owners, however, have not made an effort to reinvigorate the building claiming that the weak local economy has prolonged its vacancy. City officials ordered it demolished.

The demolition order stopped

After city officials ordered demolition for the structure, the owner appealed asking a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to allow the case to work its way through the legal process. According to the Arizona Republic, the judge granted the owner’s appeal and ordered the city to stop its demolition of the vacant structure. The judge based his decision on the fact that the city claims the building is in “very poor condition” and first wanted it demolished back in 2010, but did not move on it until many years later.

Safety violations that may result in an order for demolition

Peoria city officials use the International Property Maintenance code to determine whether a building meets its safety standards or requires demolition. In an ABC15 Arizona interview with the city’s top code enforcement official, the lack of any construction activity on a property for a certain number of years may indicate that a building is “unsafe.”

The city’s fire-prevention inspector supervisor has also noted that the closed supermarket has been tagged with a “premises alert.” The only building in the city so designated, it warns firefighters that it is not safe to step onto the structure’s roof during a fire call.

To stop a demolition order, the owner of a building may file a temporary restraining order in court. City officials might require a meeting with a property owner to show any plans for its renovations.