Hamilton continues legal fight to recover costs of demolishing building destroyed by fire

Crews from Vickers Demolition were still dismantling what was left in late August after a massive warehouse fire on Laurel in Hamilton. The fire started just before 5 a.m. Thursday, July 25, 2019. The city is still trying to recover the $186,000 demolition cost. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Crews from Vickers Demolition were still dismantling what was left in late August after a massive warehouse fire on Laurel in Hamilton. The fire started just before 5 a.m. Thursday, July 25, 2019. The city is still trying to recover the $186,000 demolition cost. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Lawyers for the city of Hamilton and the new owners of the property that was the site of an immense warehouse fire July 25 met Thursday with a magistrate to discuss the city’s efforts to recover the $186,000 costs of demolishing what remained of the building.

Columbus attorney Matthew Richardson, representing Laurel Trust LLC, on Tuesday had filed the first response in Hamilton’s lawsuit against Coast Blvd Associates LLC to recover those costs.

The early-morning fire at 999 Laurel Ave. was so intense it melted sidings on buildings across the street from the vacant warehouse that Coast Blvd Associates LLC of Glendale, Ariz., bought from CTP Funding LLC in Arizona just two days earlier.

Logan Henry, 18, of Hamilton, faces charges of aggravated arson, arson and breaking and entering in connection with the fire. An trial beginning in April has been set for Henry, who was 17 at the time but is being tried as an adult.

With the destroyed hulk of the building still smoking, city Health Commissioner Kay Farrar on the day of the blaze informed Coast Blvd Associates the building was in imminent danger of collapse and needed to be torn down immediately.

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The city rapidly hired Vickers Wrecking and Demolition to raze the remains at a cost of $186,000.

The city filed a lawsuit Nov. 1 in Butler County Common Pleas Court seeking a judgment requiring Coast Blvd Associates to reimburse it. County Auditor’s records show that on Nov. 25, the property was sold to Laurel Trust LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Richardson said afterward he appeared on behalf of Laurel Trust because it is the current owner.

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Asked whether Laurel Trust will contest a lien on the property, he said, “That’s something I can’t comment on. It’s pending litigation, so I can’t comment on that.”

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Magistrate Lynn Busch-Heyman held a brief status hearing Thursday, and Richardson told her, “My client recognizes that the property needs to be sold, one way or another, whether through the foreclosure process or a private sale.”

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No resolution was reached Thursday, but Busch-Heyman said she plans to hold another status meeting in about two months.

Lawyer Austin Musser, representing Hamilton, said he could not comment on the case.