Heritage Square – Is demolition near?

  • Thursday, April 4, 2013

Leslie Cantu/Journal Scene -- A weathered sign warns the Heritage Square building is condemned. --

Once again, the owners of the Heritage Square shopping center have been ordered to demolish the building.
Whether they intend to follow through on demolition or appeal the latest court order is unknown; neither co-owner Jack Owens nor attorney Andrew Gowder responded to messages.
The town of Summerville ordered demolition in February 2010 after building official Rich Palmer inspected the building at the corner of U.S. 78 and the Berlin G. Myers Parkway upon reports the roof had caved in.
That order set in motion a series of hearings and appeals as the owners staved off demolition demands and attempted to market the property as retail or office space. There was even talk at one point of locating a new county library there.
The parties were back in court in February, when the owners asked Master-in-Equity Maite Murphy to reconsider her previous order.
On March 26, Murphy came down firmly on the side of the town.
“This matter came to light over three years ago. Heritage has been given every opportunity and ample time to rectify the situation yet the safety of the public remains at risk,” she wrote.
The owners could have gotten away with demolishing only a portion of the building if they would have hired a structural engineer to certify the remainder would still be structurally sound, she wrote, but they didn’t.
The owners argued it was inconsistent for the town to demand demolition of the building but allow the parking lot to be used for public events.
The parking lot used to be a termination point for Tri-County Link and is being used this weekend as a shuttle parking lot for the Flowertown Festival.
But Murphy said such use isn’t inconsistent because Palmer wasn’t the one giving permission for the lot to be used and his order never addressed the parking lot to begin with.
She discounted the owners’ arguments that parts of the building still have value for reuse or renovation.
“Whether the building has value for reuse or renovation is not related to public safety ….This Court has not been pointed to any section of the Code where public safety is overruled by monetary value,” she wrote.
Murphy gave the owners 30 days from the date of her ruling to submit demolition plans to the town.

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