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In Our View / Downtown Everett

McCrossen Building's fate

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The McCrossen Building has inspired cringes lately for many reasons.
The historic property -- on the corner of Hewitt and Oakes avenues, across the street from Comcast Arena -- burned down on Nov. 8, leaving one resident dead.
A city hearing examiner told the property's owner, Pete Sikov, to demolish the wreckage by March 15. That day came and went with Sikov failing to even submit the formal paperwork needed to bring out the wrecking balls.
Understandably, there has been public muttering about when -- or even if -- Sikov will tear the building down. Sikov hasn't helped matters.
After missing the deadline, he told The Herald that he had no date in mind for a possible demolition and no plans to redevelop the property, which, again, is at one of the city's best spots for foot traffic.
Thousands of people walk by it every year, heading to Comcast Arena.
In Sikov's opinion, progress at the site was "coming along pretty well," an almost comically optimistic spin.
None of this is to say tearing down a charred downtown building is simple.
The McCrossen went up in 1894, two years after Everett's founding.
Demolishing it could involve handling hazardous waste, like asbestos.
The structure also shares a load-bearing wall with the neighboring building, 1812 Hewitt Ave., complicating the job.
Sikov has to find a contractor capable of doing the demolition. He also had to file a complex insurance claim -- investigators failed to find a cause for the fire but said it didn't appear suspicious.
At this point, insurance money has been earmarked to help pay for the demolition, which may cost somewhere in the low six figures.
Some might see the expense as the reason for Sikov's delay and suspect he will walk away from his derelict building.
But if he fails to act, the city will tear the building down on its own -- sooner rather than later, hopefully. Then the city will hand Sikov a potentially bigger bill -- bureaucracy has a way of driving up costs, after all.
If he refuses to pay, his tab will grow. Courts will get involved. His lawyers won't work for free.
Long story short, Sikov likely can get the building down for less money by doing it himself.
City officials are optimistic he will follow through. There's reason to agree. For instance, Sikov began filing paperwork with the city after missing the deadline. The delays may be coming to an end.
Let's hope that's the case, because for now, the building remains a sad reminder of a death, a black eye on Everett's public face, and a place where things have not been going well.

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