Tavern that collapsed lacked proper permits, co-owner says

City housing officials continue to investigate

June 19, 2000|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

The co-owner of a Southwest Baltimore tavern that collapsed last month has acknowledged that he did not have proper permits for all renovations being done to the structure.

However, Glen Taylor maintains that the renovations he performed at Glen and Nan's Beer Garden and Cafe were not responsible for the collapse.

Taylor, who owned the saloon with Nan Bosley, said he installed some windows and doors without proper permits from the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

The bar, which stood at 1101-1103 Little Hollins St., was located in the city's Union Square historic district, which means permits were required for all exterior work, said Kathleen Kotarba, the commission's executive director.

Taylor has also said he performed renovations on a rear interior wall of the building that were not sanctioned by the city.

City housing records show that three permits were granted for building renovations. The first permit, issued May 7, 1999, was for construction of steps. The second, issued Jan. 7. was for painting, removing nonstructural partitions and repairing a wooden floor on the first level. A third permit, issued Feb. 18 of this year, was for a floor replacement and work on interior walls.

Fees for the three permits totaled $429.

"The wall that we took down, a piece did fall, but that was on the extreme rear of the building," said Taylor, insisting that the wall he removed did not cause the building to collapse.

Housing spokesman Zack Germroth said officials are trying to determine what caused the building to crumble on May 20.

"All signs are pointing to the internal work, but we're not done with our investigation," Germroth said. "We have nothing to disprove that a substantial amount of work was being done on the interior, supportive walls. But we clearly have not completed our investigation. We're still bringing in people for interviews."

The building, located in the Hollins Market neighborhood, is owned by Gilbert Sapperstein. Efforts to reach Sapperstein were unsuccessful.

Taylor said he was installing drywall inside the bar when he heard a pop and a crack before the building's front wall fell. He said he did not remove load-bearing interior walls.

Germroth said Sapperstein could face fines of $125 per violation if a probe concludes renovations were done without proper permits.

He said he wasn't sure how much longer the city's investigation will take.

Meanwhile, Taylor and Bosley are seeking help to rebuild the tavern - formerly Gypsy's Cafe and Tom Thumb's Tavern, a restaurant and bar. Taylor estimates rebuilding costs at $250,000 to $300,000 and said he and Bosley have talked to The Empowerment Zone about help with costs.

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