A devastating fire the day after Christmas charred the historic Heritage Building downtown. Plans are moving ahead to demolish it. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

A devastating fire the day after Christmas charred the historic Heritage Building downtown. Plans are moving ahead to demolish it. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Demolition of Heritage Building starts next week

For months now, people eager to see the burned-out Heritage Building in downtown Auburn come down have been frustrated with the lack of progress.

Good news: the wheels are rolling.

What happened was Puget Sound Energy (PSE) finally provided what Harbro Emergency Services and Restoration needed, power to start and finish removing asbestos from the nearly 100-year-old building, the task that had to be wrapped up before the contractor could start bring things down in earnest.

“They started asbestos abatement last week, and now it’s done,” City of Auburn Building Official Jason Krum said last Friday. “Next week, they plan to move forward with isolation of some of the sewer connections and cap the utilities and start moving forward with some of the structural demolition.”

The sewer and storm demolition permits are ready to issue, but the permit for Phase 2 of the structural demolition is not, Krum said.

“They tell me their plan is to get that underway next week. What they told us when they started is that they expect demolition to take four or five weeks,” Krum said.

“Demolition will start on the south side of the building next week,” Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said Monday.

The first of two contractors owner Melina Lin hired to look at her building issued an asbestos report months ago, which indicated the presence of asbestos-carrying materials. But because of the delay caused by the lack of electrical power, the city had to wait to issue the first permit to Harbro for that preliminary phase of demolition and for the other permits.

On Dec. 26, 2017, fire broke out in the building’s laundry room.

By the time the Valley Regional Fire Authority and other local fire agencies called in to help had extinguished the fire, the second floor of the historic building was gutted, and its occupants and all of the ground-floor businesses were homeless.

Most of the occupants have since found new housing, and some of the businesses, like Top Nails, have set up shop elsewhere.

Lin has listed the property for sale.

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