Running out of options on Grand Avenue: Blighted former Smitty’s planned to face wrecking ball

Posted 7/27/20

It appears the former Smitty’s on Grand Avenue in Peoria is reaching the end of the line.

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Running out of options on Grand Avenue: Blighted former Smitty’s planned to face wrecking ball

Posted

It appears the former Smitty’s on Grand Avenue in Peoria is reaching the end of the line.

The dispute to demolish the building, which has netted more than 30 violations from the city, has been going on since 2018.

And now the owner of the property has exhausted all his appeals to try and keep the blighted building from being demolished.

Owner Ron Hassid appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court to save the building, but the highest court in the state declined to hear the case, June 25.

Peoria spokeswoman Kristina Perez said this stands as the final decision on this matter.

The city prevailed at Peoria’s Building Board of Appeals, Maricopa County Superior Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, and then the Arizona Supreme Court denied owner Grand Holdings’ Petition for Review, she said.

“The court of appeals’ ruling stating the city has the authority to enforce the International Property Maintenance Code and direct the property owner to remedy a code violation stands as the final ruling of the court,” she said. “The city is moving forward with a contractor to demolish the building.”

Demolition is expected to begin in late August.

Officials said the property owner did not respond to the re-issued demolition order within the required time frame, so the city is moving forward with a contractor to demolish the building, and then a lien will be put on the property for the cost of demolition.

Mr. Hassid bought the old Smitty’s building in 2006 for $3.5 million.

The 91,000-square-foot structure has sat vacant for more than 20 years and is in violation of more than 30 city codes, ranging from standing water in the basement to an unsafe plumbing system.

Additionally, a March 2019 report commissioned by the city from Phoenix-based Willdan Engineering laid out a number of issues with the building, stating interior surfaces are in a severe state of deterioration, completing a structure that has been “abandoned for several years and has not been maintained in a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition ... The current condition lends to a blighting problem and adversely affects public health and safety.”

The report deemed the structure “dangerous to the life, health, property, or safety of the public,” as well as unfit for occupancy.

Peoria police officers say blight is a public safety issue so city officials started a pilot program in April of 2016 to address abandoned, neglected and fire damaged residential properties in Peoria.

The program was implemented through the International Property Management Code, a publication that includes codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to ensure safe structures.

The city program also includes commercial parcels, for cases such as the blighted former Smitty’s.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Stein said the Smitty’s property is a landmark at the entrance to Old Town Peoria, with an immediate connection to downtown, and the city has a vested interest in the success of the area.

Real Estate Development Officer Scott Whyte said the city offered to buy the Smitty’s property twice at fair market value, but both times the owner refused. He said the city has even introduced interested developers to Mr. Hassid.

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.

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