James Barrett has requested a demolition agreement with the city.
Although the Juneau Assembly passed a motion to move forward with eminent domain on the burned-out apartment complex, the owner of the dilapidated property offered a new agreement to City and Borough of Juneau attorney Robert Palmer on Monday.
In a 7-2 vote at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the Assembly agreed to give Barrett until July 1 to demolish the scorched property. The vote didn’t come without heartache.
“I really hate being back in this position again,” Assemblywoman Karen Crane said. “I thought we made a decision last time.”
Assemblyman Loren Jones said he assumed after the last meeting that the Assembly was moving forward with eminent domain, which would allow the city to take the property for public use.
He asked if a demolition agreement would prevent eminent domain if plans fall through.
“So basically it says, you either tear it down, or we will,” he said.
CBJ attorney Amy Mead said the agreement requires Barrett to finish demolition by July 1. Barrett had previously predicted July as an end date.
Crane said she didn’t trust Barrett would meet the date, as he had asked last week for an extension through the summer, potentially as late as September.
Assemblywoman Kate Troll suggested setting the demolition date for the night of July 3.
“Then there would be fireworks,” she said.
Troll was adamant that Barrett be held to his word on the proposed due date and complete the demolition by the end of summer.
If he does not comply with the conditional due date, the city can foreclose on the property and tear it down, potentially at his expense. Under the terms of the demolition agreement, the Assembly could move forward with eminent domain at any time if Barrett fails to live up to the agreement.
Jones was skeptical that Barrett will pay the $1.2 million in demolition costs and said the city would end up with the bill.
“I’m not ready to go down that road,” he said.
Jones, along with Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl, was concerned that the lot may sit dormant after demolition. The lot, if taken under eminent domain, is expected to be used for affordable housing.
A new appraisal on the building is expected to be complete on Wednesday and Barrett told the Assembly last week that he will have bids on the demolition done by April 30.
Mead said Barrett told the CBJ law department today that he has spoken with 37 contractors but has not heard back from any parties yet.
Kiehl and Jones cast votes against the new plan for the apartment building, which burned in 2012 and then again last month.
Editor's note: The original article stated that James Barrett already has an agreement with the city. This agreement is still in the drafting process and will be approved by the Assembly at a later date.
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