$1 bid wins contract to tear down ruined bar Businessman wants to get it done PASADENA

July 16, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

His competition says it will cost $42,793 to knock down a condemned Mountain Road bar. But Tom Redmond says he will do it for a dollar.

The Pasadena salvage yard operator and County Council candidate learned July 8 that he has won the county contract to demolish the Brick House Bar, long an eyesore at the entrance to Pasadena.

County officials estimated that it would cost between $40,000 and $60,000 to tear down the old bar. Bay Area Services, the only other bidder for the job, submitted the $42,793 estimate.

Mr. Redmond, who also is president of the Pasadena Business Association, said he bid $1 to expedite the demolition and to win county approval for a business association plan to build a gateway sign, welcoming visitors to the community, on a portion of the cleared site.

The bar's burned-out hulk "has been our welcome mat for years, and it's a shame," Mr. Redmond said. "With the economy the way it is, I thought we'd jump in and help and make something nice for the community."

Ruth Ann Gary, county director of community services, said Mr. Redmond has 30 days under the contract to knock down the building and clear the site.

"Hallelujah!" said Jack Feehley, president of the Greater Pasadena Council, which represents about 25 neighborhoods.

Mr. Feehley and the council had expressed frustration that the demolition of the building, which was both an eyesore and a safety hazard, was mired in red tape.

"I'd like to see them start today," he said of the demolition.

Mr. Redmond's $1 deal has left several county officials breathless, including the man he hopes to unseat in the 3rd District in the 1994 County Council election.

"How in the hell can the county pass that up?" said County Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena.

"If he can do it for a buck and turn a profit, he's a better businessman than I am," Mr. Holland said. "If it's for political reasons, more power to him. Knocking one building down isn't going to get a man elected. . . . My first priority is to get the building down."

Mr. Redmond said the deal is for more than a dollar. He said county officials also have agreed to lease a portion of the property to the business association and other community groups for $1 a year. He said those groups then would pay for the construction and annual maintenance of the gateway sign.

He said the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and Chesapeake Women's Club have expressed interest in participating in building the sign.

County officials confirm that they have discussed allowing the business association to construct a gateway sign on the site. But they say the terms have not been set and no written agreement has been reached.

Because his company has no experience in demolition, Mr. Redmond said he will rely on other Pasadena businesses to volunteer their expertise. He said he will hold a news conference unveiling the details of the project and a design for the gateway within the next several weeks.

The demolition will mark the end of a two-year effort by county officials to untangle the property's complicated ownership and competing claims made against it by the county, state and federal governments for back taxes.

First built in 1917, the structure housed the Lipin General Store and gas station, giving Lipin's Corner its name. After the Lipin family sold the property in 1944, new owners added a brick facade and eventually converted the building into a popular night spot and concert venue.

The bar, gutted by fire, closed in the mid-1980s. Because its corporate owner, Brick House Bar Inc., was no longer paying property taxes, the county auctioned it at a 1990 tax sale.

Robert H. Glensky, a Nabbs Creek Road resident, bought the property for $16,000 and was ready to take title when the county condemned the building last summer, fearing it could collapse and cause injury.

Faced with paying the demolition costs as well as federal and state liens totaling more than $500,000, Mr. Glensky surrendered his claim, allowing the county to take title.

Deputy County Attorney Robert Pollock said that the state and federal governments have agreed not to pursue their liens as long the county owns the property.

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