'Dangerous' Walgreens building must be demolished

City officials declare it a public nuisance and allow 90 days for demolition

The Walgreens building in downtown Palo Alto "is hereby declared to be dangerous and a public nuisance" and must be demolished within 90 days, city officials have decreed.

The order was issued Thursday and gives the building owners 20 days to apply for a demolition permit. The order also states that demolition must begin within 30 days and be completed within 90 days.

The order was signed by Chief Building Official Larry Perlin and Fire Chief Nick Marinaro.

The building, constructed in 1900 at University Avenue and Bryant Street, was severely damaged in a fire the night of July 1-2. The fire started about 9:30 p.m. and burned through most of the night despite being fought by 50 firefighters from Palo Alto and surrounding jurisdictions.

Flames at times soared dozens of feet into the sky above the building.

The fire caused an estimated $8 million in damge.

The building is in danger of complete collapse because the fire destroyed the roof, making the walls unstable, officials reported.

It was temporarily shored up last week to allow arson investigators to gain access. Local police and fire investigators were aided by agents from the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency.

Earlier this week, investigators declared that the fire was intentionally set and police are now searching for the arsonist.

The building is owned by Milpitas & Dixon LLC, a corporation with five owners, including Lu Lu Teng of Los Altos.

A Walgreens store and a Subway sandwich shop occupied the ground floor of the building, while the second-floor offices -- including the former Peninsula bureau of the San Jose Mercury News -- were vacant.

During its long history, the building was home to a J.C. Penney store, a furniture company and real estate offices, among other tenants over the century-plus of its existence.

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