A condemnation order on the embattled Bergmann Hotel was lifted Friday, but no one will be headed back inside: The building is now up for sale.
After spending $75,000 repairing the building, Dave D’Amato confirmed in an interview that the building will be sold rather than re-opening for former residents.
“We’re of course very pleased about the fact that the condemnation order was lifted,” D’Amato told the Empire in an interview. “We think that was the correct action in light of all the work that has gone into the hotel.”
The hotel is owned by Camilla Barrett, an 82-year-old former Juneau resident, who owns Breffni Place Properties LLC. She was not immediately available for comment.
“Given the age of the owner of Breffni Place Properties LLC, … it’s time for her to enjoy her golden years and give this property to somebody else to reinvest in this community,” said D’Amato, who holds power of attorney for Breffni.
City and Borough of Juneau building official Charlie Ford confirmed with the Empire Wednesday that the condemnation order was lifted. The century-old hotel — which had been functioning as a quasi-homeless shelter for low-income residents, many of whom had mental health and substance abuse issues — had been shut down in March 2017 after being classified as unsafe for human occupancy. The shuttering sent many residents to a temporary emergency warming shelter opened by the Salvation Army, but without housing for the long-term.
The building looks much cleaner and its safety issues were addressed, Ford said. The city has been inspecting the building about once a month.
“It’s taken a load off a lot of people’s minds,” to have the condemnation order lifted, Ford said. He added, “It’s a totally different building now than it was in the beginning.”
A hole in the roof, high carbon monoxide levels in the boiler room and an uncertified and damaged sprinkler system were all cited as reasons for the Bergmann’s condemnation. Lack of heat and hot water, inadequate restrooms, exposed wiring, broken windows and unsuitable emergency exit doors also topped a list of repairs.
Ford said all of those issues have been fixed and a condemnation placard on the building was taken down today.
The hotel was a crash pad of sorts for dozens of Juneauites who would otherwise be on the streets. Its shuttering was a flashpoint in the city’s ongoing issues with affordable housing, homelessness and substance abuse.
Many of its residents were without a place to go when the building was condemned. Property owners fell under criticism for letting the building deteriorate to its condition, while city officials were criticized for adding to the homeless population during winter months.
“It’s cold as hell out there,” said former Bergmann resident James Cole on the day Juneau Police Department booted residents from the building. “It’s a bad time to be kicking people out. … The Bergmann is all we’ve got. Now we’ve got nowhere to go.”
For years, the hotel was run by Camilla Barrett’s son James Barrett, and the building became noticeably dilapidated, with neighbors increasingly complaining about the residents’ suspected drug use and other criminal activity. Last winter, the city found that the building’s owner failed to address outstanding fire and building code violations, which put tenants in imminent danger, according to the city. The building’s manager at the time whom James Barrett hired, Charles Cotten, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors for recklessly violating a lawful order from a building official. Those charges were dropped less than a month later. Cotten was later arrested in October in connection to a federal drug case.
D’Amato said the Barrett family worked hard to repair the hotel after facing its issues, which D’Amato said James Barrett had hidden from Camilla Barrett for years before being addressed.
D’Amato said there’s no buyer in mind for the building.
“We don’t have a fixed price yet; we’re still working with an appraiser,” he said.
He hopes whoever buys the Bergmann will work with city officials to find a use beneficial to Juneau’s lack of housing and homelessness resources.
“Hopefully the person who takes it over works with the city and figures out what the city needs and really plugs it into their business plan,” D’Amato said.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.