Police cars and fire trucks blocked off Walnut Street downtown on Jan. 24 after when a building at 15 Carolina Lane collapsed. Workers were already in the process of demolishing the building before the collapse, but no one was injured.
The two-story structure was built in 1917 and last used as apartments, Asheville Fire Department spokesperson Kelley Klope says. "Apparently, it's been vacant for awhile. There were two people involved in the demolition, but they're accounted for,” she reports.
"It came down inward," she adds, explaining that, as a precaution, the fire department evacuated some nearby buildings.
"There was no permit for no work whatsoever," says Asheville Building Safety Director Robert Griffin. "Any work that was going on, by the owner, contractor, or anyone else, was not authorized."
Preliminary investigations attribute the collapse to the removal of a load-bearing wall on the inside of the building, he says. The city is reviewing who was involved with the work, and will turn over the results of its investigation to North Carolina’s Licensing Board for General Contractors.
Bouchon French Bistro, which leases the space, applied for a permit last September for work by contractor Mountain Brook Homes, according to Griffin. The work included installing a canopy overlooking the adjacent courtyard, but that permit was never approved. The property is owned by Dawn Lantzius and managed by Leslie and Associates, which sent construction crews out overnight to clean up the debris and allow area businesses to reopen. Company President Tom Leslie tells Xpress that Bouchon planned to use the spot for a catering and event space.
Surrounding businesses were also affected as the damage limited access. Liquid Dragon Tattoo had to shut down completely, and four others, including Bouchon, have had their maximum capacity reduced by the city until damage is cleared.