The work that caused the collapse of 15 Carolina Lane Thursday afternoon was never authorized by the city of Asheville. The Building Safety department is currently investigating the incident.
"There was no permit for no work whatsoever," Building Safety Director Robert Griffin tells Xpress. "Any work that was going on, by the owner, contractor, or anyone else, was not authorized."
Bouchon French Bistro, who lease the space, applied for a permit last September for work by contractor Mountain Brook Homes, including the installation of a canopy overlooking the adjoining courtyard, but that permit was never approved. The property is owned by Dawn Lantzius and managed by Leslie and Associates, who sent construction crews out overnight to clean up the collapse's debris and allow area businesses to reopen. Company President Tom Leslie told Xpress yesterday that Bouchon planned to use the spot for a catering and event space.
However, Griffin notes that "we don't know who was authorizing the work, but we know there was a licensed general contractor doing work in the building."
Preliminary investigations attribute the collapse to the removal of a load-bearing wall on the inside of the building, Griffin says. The city is looking into everyone involved with the work, and will turn over the results of its investigation to the state licensing board for general contractors.
"The general statutes and the building code are very explicit: if you're going to touch a commercial building you must have a permit," he emphasizes.
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