After Decades of Disrepair, Broadway Pets Building Coming Down

Its empty windows looked out at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers. It saw several changes in Derry’s governing body, saw the school population grow and then recede, and witnessed the Internet revolution. A century turned into another and it was unaffected. It survived blizzards, hurricanes and several attempts at downtown revitalization. It was a somewhat ugly constant in a changing world.

Now Broadway Pets is coming down.

Planning Assistant Elizabeth Robidoux confirmed this week that the owners of 41 East Broadway, Alexander Kock Chee Lee and Stephen Lee, will be demolishing the building, which has stood vacant since the late 1980s. “The owners have said they will take it down,” Robidoux said.

Derry Planning Director George Sioras credited the new Property Maintenance Ordinance and committee with bringing the Broadway Pets saga to a close. Before that, he said, the Code Enforcement Officer, currently Bob Mackey, and other town officials sent a number of letters to the owners. “Parts of the building were literally falling off,” Sioras said.

There were broken windows, recently boarded up, and pigeon droppings on the sidewalk, Sioras said.

“They would just do the basics,” Sioras said of the Lees, and they had to be prompted. When the Code Enforcement Officer sent them a letter, they would board a window or clean the sidewalk. But it never lasted.

The Property Maintenance Committee identified a list of “distressed properties” and started contacting the owners. It also set up a protocol, which allowed the CEO to take action, Sioras said.

The Lees hired a structural engineer, who told them the building could not be saved, according to Sioras.

The first stage of the demolition will be removing the asbestos, Sioras said, noting, “It’s an old building.” There will be a slow demolition because of the age and visibility of the building, he said.

Sioras, who came to work for the town in the 1980s, remembers the building as a functioning pet store.
Sioras said he was not aware of any plans for the building following the demolition.

The committee follows the International Property Maintenance Code and the New Hampshire RSA 155-B regarding Hazardous and Dilapidated Buildings. RSA 155-B:3 allows Code Enforcement to issue an order stating in writing “the grounds therefore, specifying the necessary repairs, if any, and providing a reasonable time for compliance. It shall also state that a motion for summary enforcement of the order will be made to the court of the district or municipality in which the hazardous building is situated unless corrective action is taken, or unless an answer is filed within the time specified in RSA 155-B:6 and that any costs, attorney’s fees, and expenses incurred by the municipality in bringing the property into compliance may be enforced as a lien against the subject property and any other property owned by the same owner in the state pursuant to RSA 155-B:9, II.”

RSA 155-B:9 allows the town to enforce the property maintenance ordinance as follows:

“I. If a judgment is not complied with in the time prescribed, the governing body may cause the building to be repaired, razed, or removed as set forth in the judgment. The cost of such repairs, razing, or removal shall be a lien against the real estate on which the building is located and may be levied and collected in the same manner as provided in RSA 80 for tax liens. When the building is razed or removed by the municipality, the governing body may sell the salvage and valuable materials at public auction upon 3 days’ posted notice. II. If the value of the subject real estate is deemed by the municipality to have insufficient value, based on the current tax assessment, to cover the cost of repairs, razing, or removal, the governing body may place a lien for the balance of the cost on any other real property in the state that is owned by the same owner, which additional lien may be levied and collected in the same manner as provided in RSA 80 for tax liens; provided that RSA 80:59 giving such liens priority over all other liens shall not apply. The municipal lien shall be subordinate to any lien of record on such real property.”

Properties on the committee’s radar also include 71 Birch St., 6-8 East Broadway,19 Elm St., 27 Franklin St., 213 Island Pond Road, 357 Island Pond Road, 7 Sheldon Road and 34 South Ave.

Council Chairman Tom Cardon, who was instrumental in forming the Property Maintenance Committee, said, “It’s about time. It will be nice to get that eyesore out.”

Cardon added, “I hope someone comes in and purchases the land, and puts something up that will be good for economic development.” Cardon is the chair of the newly-formed Economic Development Committee.