Friday, April 20, 2012
Owner of Austin Avenue in Plano says he wants to rebuild
The sports bar burned down in July 2011, but an insurance dispute has held up its reconstruction.
When Austin Avenue was gutted by a fire July 4, few people thought it would remain standing much longer.
Owner Bryan Capps says he expected the rebuilding process to be well underway by this point, but a disagreement with his insurance company has prevented him from demolishing the structure.
"My goal was to rebuild as fast as possible," Capps told the Plano Building Standards Commission Tuesday afternoon. "I lost 78 percent of my income with this [fire]. I have another store (located in Richardson), but this store was the majority of my income and I needed this place demolished and rebuilt as fast as possible. But the insurance company is not cooperating with me."
There is a $2 million insurance policy on the building, which is located at 935 W. Parker Road. Capps said he has only received $1.2 million so far, with the remaining $800,000 being held back because his insurance company told him three walls, totaling 30 percent of the building, can be salvaged.
Capps, as well as Selso Mata, the city's chief building official, disagreed with the insurance company's opinion. Mata said the three walls in question would likely be damaged when the remainder of the building was demolished. He added that the building would require substantial reconstruction efforts, and in the city's opinion "was a total loss."
While all parties involved agree the building is ugly, aesthetic reasons are not the only reasons nearby residents want it demolished as soon as possible. Robert Crawford, a property standards specialist with the city, said rotting food inside the structure has attracted rodents, as well as cats and other animals. He said his department has received 21 complaints in the past two months, and called the building a health and safety hazard.
"Staff recommends that the property owner be given no more than 30 days to demolish the structure," Crawford said. "In the event that the property owner fails to remove the structure, staff request that penalties be assessed in the amount of $1,000 per day for each and every day that the violation exists."
Prior to unanimously adopting Crawford's recommendation, commission Chairman Art Stone said while he understands Capps is having issues with his insurance company, he said the commission will not and should not consider that issue when it makes a recommendation. Capps said he understood, and would accept any order the commission issues.
"I would like nothing better than to see it torn down," Capps said. "... I fear going out in public because people ask me 'when are you going to tear that building down.' I know my reputation is being damaged. I know the community's reputation is being damaged and the city of Plano's reputation is being damaged. Unfortunately, I am kind of stuck. I don't know where to turn."
Capps now has 30 days to demolish the building, or else the city can come in and bulldoze the 12,600-square-foot structure and then bill Capps for the cost of the work.
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