Crews start clean-up of building that collapsed in downtown Charleston over weekend

An abandoned building near Memminger Elementary fell over the weekend, the second of 2017, and now city officials are looking at ways to prevent more collapses around the city.

It doesn't happen often in the city but Charleston officials are looking at ways to keep it from happening in the first place.

According to city records, the building was bought two years ago. At that time, the owner asked the Board of Architectural Review if he could demolish it, but his request was denied.

"So, the owner came back to the board and had an alternate plan to perhaps connect the building to an adjacent one and modify the way that the building worked and the board felt like they didn't really have enough information, so they deferred on that," Charleston Planning Director Jacob Lindsey said.

Lindsey says the BAR recommended the owner come up with a plan to secure the building.

"The owner, to our knowledge, was working on the process but we didn't see anything back from the owner since that time," Lindsey said.

The city didn't give him a timeline, and they say he never came up with a plan, in time at least.

"Whether this was a case of demolition by neglect or not I’m not sure,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey says neglect has been an issue in Charleston for generations.

"It is a property owner's responsibility to keep their historic buildings standing and in good shape," Lindsey said.

The city is working to possibly change laws and give homeowners deadlines, when a structure becomes unstable.

"That's why we're looking into whether or not we need more formal powers to be able to require that owners shore up their buildings before they fall down," Lindsey said.

The city says the owner is responsible for cleaning and securing the building. It is working with him to get that done as soon as possible.

The owner of the abandoned home declined to comment.

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