by Michael R. Allen
On October 31, the city issued an emergency demolition permit for the burned part of the Brecht Butcher Supply Company Buildings. The contract supposedly has been let to Bellon Wrecking. Oddly enough, the burned section has been left unsecured since the devastating fire last month. There has been no fence around the building, and the permit didn’t come until three weeks after the fire.
While I am upset to see the building go, I am also upset that the Building Division did not see fit to order the owners to erect a fence or board up a building that was condemned on October 10 and was in terrible, dangerous condition inside. The building is directly across Cass Avenue from the Greyhound Station, too, making its post-fire appearance a rather sour introduction to this city.
When a building this large has such a terrible fire, safety precautions should be taken until renovation or demolition can begin. It’s an insult to residents of the near north side than neither the Building Division nor Blairmont Associates LC — which can afford to finance millions of dollars in property purchases — did not see fit to secure the burned buildings.
Hopefully, the demolition site will be secure although I doubt it. I also hope that the wreckers only demolish the fire-damaged center section, and leave the flanking buildings standing. Even though the remaining buildings will look strange severed from the connector, there is no need to lose all of them. Cass Avenue needs some architectural stability, and given how little historic fabric remains it is very reasonable to preserve what is left.