Demolition complete amid controversy -Tenant says $1 million in property destroyed
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What was left standing of the building at 1433 Circle Ave. came down and the rubble was cleared away during the week of Dec. 16. But building tenant John Stange is angry at the building owner and village of Forest Park, stating that he lost over $1 million in property he was storing at the warehouse.
In July 2019, an emergency demolition of the building was ordered when an employee at 1433 Circle Ave. heard noises that suggested it was unsafe. “It seems like the roof trusses are giving or actually did give out,” reported the employee to Police Chief Tom Aftanas at the time.
Village code enforcement officials felt that the building was unsafe and in danger of collapsing.
The front portion of the brick warehouse was knocked down by a demolition crew hired by the owner, but the back half of the building was left standing, and broken pieces of cement and building material sat in place for months.
Steve Glinke, who oversees zoning and code enforcement as director of Public Health and Safety for the village, said it took time for the owner to evict the tenant, whose property was still in the partially demolished building, and for the demolition team to get a permit from the county declaring the building free from asbestos before the rest of the tear-down could take place.
Stange, owner of Team Stange Racing and heavily involved in NASCAR, claims that he lost over $1 million when the building was demolished. Stange had been renting space for storage in the building, which he had considered purchasing.
Prior to the initial demolition in July, he said he had been asking the building owner, Eugene Staples, to fix the roof, which was in need of serious repair. Stange reported withholding rent because Staples was not responding to his requests.
When the building was demolished, his property, including race cars, tools and equipment, was still inside.
Stange claims that after the partial demolition, his attorney wrote several letters to Staples saying Staples needed to remove the rubble so Stange could get his property out, but that never happened, and everything he was storing in the 1433 Circle building was completely destroyed in the final demolition in December 2019.
Additionally, he said that trailers he had on Circle Avenue with equipment stored inside were stolen. He is considering legal action against the building owner and the village of Forest Park.
By Maria Maxham