The two-story structure was built in 1917, and was last used as apartments, Asheville Fire Department spokesperson Kelley Klope told Xpress.
"Apparently it's been vacant for awhile. There were two people involved in the demolition, but they're accounted for," Klope said. She later clarified that the two contractors thought to be on scene "had actually not been at this location for several days."
"It came down inward," she noted, and the AFD doesn't believe any nearby buildings are in danger, though they're still examining the extent of the damage, and the immediate area remains unsafe.
As a precaution, the fire department evacuated some nearby buildings.
The property was leased to the nearby Bouchon restaurant, owned by Dawn Lantzias, and managed by Leslie and Associates. Tom Leslie, the company's president, says the D.H. Griffin construction company will work overnight to clear debris and resolve the safety issues, including a remaining wall that the AFD is concerned about.
"They're coming in right now and they'll have the site secure and safe by the morning," Leslie says. "I'm not sure what exactly, if anything, had been done to the building precipitating the collapse."
In general buildings in the area are "built very well. Here there was a good roof-truss system," Leslie says. "It's very unusual and unfortunate." Bouchon, he notes, was planning to use the site for a catering and event space.
View of the collapsed building from the courtyard behind Scully's. Photo by Jake Frankel
View of the collapsed building from above 5 Walnut. Photo by Elizabeth Ewing
Asheville Fire Department block off Carolina Lane. Photo by David Forbes
Police and fire vehicles block off Walnut Street. Photo by David Forbes
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