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Northridge Meadows Razing Delayed Again

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The final razing of the Northridge Meadows Apartments, which claimed the lives of 16 tenants when it collapsed during the Jan. 17 earthquake, was postponed again Thursday when the city and the wrecking company failed to work out contractual details.

The city had expected to finalize a $281,500 demolition contract with Cleveland Wrecking Co. on Wednesday, said Bob Hayes of the city’s Department of Public Works. But there were two sticking points that prevented demolition from beginning Thursday as planned.

Attorneys involved in the seven wrongful death suits stemming from the collapse were not, as they had been guaranteed, given rights in the contract to observe the demolition. What’s more, Hayes said, area residents had complained that the city needed to take steps to ensure the safety of several cats that they believe are living in the dilapidated structure.

“These things come up and who would expect it?” Hayes said. He added that the city hopes to begin demolition next week.

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Money for the project will come from the same Federal Emergency Management Agency program that has already paid for the removal of 134 quake-ruined structures, city officials said. Another 96 buildings are still marked for demolition under the program.

Robert Freedman, the attorney for building owners Shashikant and Renuka Jogani, said the demolition will take about a month.

A judge had originally halted the three-story building’s demolition so that structural engineers and other experts could investigate the catastrophic collapse of the building’s first floor.

The building is in one of the Valley’s 13 “ghost towns” of abandoned, quake damaged structures.

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Forty-nine people, including relatives, heirs and neighbors of the 16 people who died in the moments after the 6.8 earthquake, have joined the legal action against the building owners, Freedman said.

A trial to determine whether the collapse was a result of negligence is set to begin in March.


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