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City, developer clash over demolition of collapsed hotel

FILE - This Oct. 12, 2019, file photo, shows damage of a partial collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans. Dozens of protesters marched from the site of the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel on the edge of the French Quarter to City Hall on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 demanding that something be done about the hotel and that the two bodies still inside be recovered. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
March 31, 2020 - 5:33 PM

NEW ORLEANS - Plans to demolish the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, which partially collapsed in October, remain in limbo as the city and developers disagree over how to safely bring down the structure.

The hotel developer, 1031 Canal Street Development, is pushing for a different contractor, who would use a demolition method the city doesn't agree with, news outlets reported.

The hotel was still under construction when its upper floors collapsed on Oct. 12, killing three workers and injuring dozens more. Two of the deceased workers remain in the building.

On Monday, 1031 Canal said they struck a deal with Kolb Grading to demolish the building traditionally, meaning piece by piece. The developer said its proposal would safely demolish the building and make retrieving the remains of the workers a quicker process.

City Hall Spokesman Beau Tidwell said the city doesn't support the new plan.

City officials previously told 1031 Canal to work with D.H. Griffin to carry out an implosion, which would clear the site quicker than a traditional demolition.

Griffin and 1031 Canal reached an agreement in January but the deal was contingent on the demolition company securing $50 million in liability insurance and being indemnified by the state for any additional liabilities.

The state told the contractor it wouldn't indemnify the company and the cost of the insurance skyrocketed. By mid-March, Griffin said it could only get about $22 million in liability insurance. Griffin filed a lawsuit against 1031 Canal on Monday seeking to be freed from its discussions with the developer. Griffin also wants to block the developer from obtaining any compensation since their agreement fell through.

On Monday, 1031 Canal said the city is now standing in the way of the demolition. An attorney for the developer said the contract with Kolb Grading was ready to go and the group filed for the traditional demolition with the city last week.

In the meantime, the city’s code enforcement department fined the developer $7,575 for a slew of violations and said more fines could be charged to the company.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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