A demolition permit for the old Seattle Times building is expected to be issued next week, following public safety complaints due to squatters and fires.
A demolition permit for the old Seattle Times building is expected to be issued next week amid public-safety complaints due to squatters and fires, including a blaze on Wednesday, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections said.
After that, the city expects the building’s property owner, Onni Group, based in Vancouver, B.C., to take “immediate action” toward demolition, spokesman Bryan Stevens wrote in an email.
Seattle officials said several months ago they would speed plans for demolition of part of the building over public-safety concerns.
“Review of the demolition-permit application has been and remains a top priority for the city,” Stevens said. “However, the historic nature of a few of the buildings have required more complex engineering designs by the developer in order to ensure the partial demolition occurs safely and preserves the historic facades.”
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He added: “This has become an unprecedented issue involving a very persistent group of people breaking in and not only putting themselves at risk, but also our first responders.”
Firefighters who responded to the fire Wednesday said one of the squatters told them that 10 to 12 people had been there for more than a year.
The old newspaper building, constructed in 1930-31 at Fairview Avenue North and John Street in the South Lake Union neighborhood, was deemed a historical landmark in the mid-1990s.
Onni spokesman Evan Lewis said the company was aware of the Wednesday evening fire and the squatters, and has a 24/7 security patrol at the building.
He said demolition would begin as soon as Onni gets the necessary permits.
The Wednesday fire in a second-floor room of the building drew a huge response from firefighters, police and nearby residents who questioned why the building is still standing.
The Seattle Times sold the building to Onni Group in 2013 after The Times moved to a nearby building at Denny Way and Boren in 2011. The developer plans to construct two residential towers on the site.
During the winter, firefighters fought at least two blazes at the building, and police arrested numerous people living inside.