According to town officials, the building fell into disrepair over the years, even while still occupied, and people stopped paying their fees to the condo association, hampering maintenance efforts.
Residents began moving out as the building worsened, eventually leaving it vacant around 12 years ago, officials said.
“What happened around 10 years ago is, people stopped paying taxes,” said Town Administrator Chris Pianese. “There were liens on the property. It just became a real mess. The township aggressively tried to figure out what to do, and how to deal with this property.”
The remaining liens and tax issues complicated town efforts to gain possession of the building. “Legally, it became a real problem because of these 18 individual owners,” Pianese said. “It was all kinds of things going on.”
The town decided to pick up the building's liens over the years, bit by bit, culminating in the recent resolution. This allows them full control of the property.
The township will meet with the neighborhood to determine a future use for the property.
"It just became a real mess." -- Chris Pianese
Two months ago, a town engineer determined the building was no longer structurally safe.
“We had heard of some debris falling off one of the windows,” Pianese said. “There were complaints about it being vacant. Years ago you would get trespassing, people in the building.”
A hired contractor began by collapsing the top floor, then imploded other floors to minimize disturbances.
“It's somewhat complicated, because over the years, the roof actually collapsed into the third floor,” Pianese said. “All the rain and elements over the last two years were just pouring into this structure. They need to pin the structure and implode it in. It isn't as simple as going in with a bulldozer.”
Regarding the property’s future, “We need to meet with that neighborhood group and get a sense of what they would accept, and what they wouldn't accept,” Pianese said.
Pianese said any new residential space would have to have self-contained parking, as the area currently does not have much on-street parking.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org