Judge clears way for city to demolish burnt out warehouse

City will move forward with demolition planning.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:18 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:20 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A judge told Louisville he is not standing in the way of the city tearing down a warehouse that caught fire last week in the Park Hill neighborhood.

The city plans to issue a new demolition order on the property this week following that massive fire.

The city ordered an emergency demolition back in May saying the brick smokestack on the property at 1480 S. 13th St. had a crack running from top to bottom, and the rest of the warehouse was unstable and unsafe.

The property owner Iron Works Enterprises challenged that order in court, where it has been stuck ever since.

The fire destroyed much of the middle section of the warehouse but the smokestack is still standing.

In a court hearing Wednesday morning, Iron Works’ lawyer said they have an expert who believed the smokestack is not in danger of falling. The lawyer said their expert needs to go back out to the property and double check the smokestack’s condition following the fire.

But the city’s lawyer said the fire has only increased the danger to the public of the building collapsing and said the remainder of the building needs to be torn down. He said they’re working on issuing an updated demolition order this week.

The judge set another hearing in February, but said he’s not blocking the city from moving forward.

“I haven’t issued anything in this case, so what both of you should know whatever needs to proceed will proceed absent an injunction, somebody waiting around for some kind of order thinking the court has stepped in here the court has not stepped in,” said Judge Olu Stevens.

The fire department has not determined the cause of the fire, but Iron Works’ lawyer said in court they were told the department was leaning toward ruling it as arson.

The lawyer also said they couldn’t get insurance on the property before the fire.

Property records show Iron Works bought the property for $310,000 and currently has a $270,000 mortgage on it.

A city spokesperson said property owners are given 48 hours once an emergency demolition order is issued to take care of the order. If the city tears down a building, it will send the owner a bill before filing a lien on the property.