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Fire-charred Hodges Building faces more hurdles
EVERETT - It’s looking unlikely the owner of the Hodges Building, where a December fire killed one person, will meet an April 30 deadline to make mandatory fixes to avoid a full condemnation, according to a city official.
Building owner Pete Sikov still has to fix an elevator shaft unrelated to the fire and clean up the fire-damaged apartment units. 
The Dec. 15, 2013 fire displaced 36 residents and was contained to the room in which it started.
The building is largely empty these days, but people were allowed to move back in to undamaged apartment units in February. 
A building official observed a handful of people were still living there as of late last week, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. 
If Sikov misses deadline and the city yanks his occupancy permits, he will have to relocate the tenants at his expense. Sikov owns 15 buildings downtown, so that may not be a problem for him.
City officials believe he won’t make deadline.
A city building official who looked at the building last week believes there’s too much work left to do by April 30, especially relating to the elevator shaft, Pembroke said.
“At this point, we don’t expect he will meet deadline,” Pembroke said.
Sikov did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment on his progress.

Progress made on a myriad of code violationsThe Hodges Building, last weekDoug Ramsay photo,

Above: The fire-charred Hodges Building as it sat last week

The Hodges Building had a myriad of code violations in November 2010, and this led to a city hearing examiner to mandate Sikov fix the problems by July 2013. Sikov made progress on many of the code violations, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a condemnation order that came down Nov. 20, 2013.
Sikov was under a Dec. 20 deadline to finish the work. If he would have missed the deadline, he would have had to relocate all of his tenants.
The Dec. 15 fire, though, extended all of the deadlines.
The fatal fire was confined to the bedroom of apartment 402 where Wendy A. Pirring, 47, lived. The Snohomish Medical Examiner’s Office determined last month that Pirring died by overdosing from mixing methamphetamine and muscle relaxants with alcohol.
Sikov had the Hodges almost completely up to code the week of the fire, fire marshal Rick Robinson said in mid-December. The construction work was 85 percent done, Robinson said.
The fire identified the building’s electrical system was not up to code, which Sikov fixed in January. The city determined people could return to most of the undamaged apartment units on Friday, Jan. 31.
If Sikov does not meet deadline, city code limits what exactly he could do with the building. The city hopes he will fix it to code.
Sikov does not have carte blanche to demolish the 1894 vintage building. He would have to make a case before the city’s ad hoc Historical Commission and get the planning director’s approval to demolish anything, Pembroke said.
One thing he cannot do is turn the building into a parking lot. City code along the Hewitt historic district prevents that, which is why the now-demolished McCrossen Building across from Comcast Arena cannot be a parking lot either.
The Hodges’ ground-floor businesses, including a salon, remained closed after the fire. A notice on the door from Sikov’s building manager states the business owners had to contact the manager for access to the building.
The Hodges, at 1804 Hewitt Ave., is the third downtown building to have a fire in the past three and a half years.
Other fires happened at the now-demolished McCrossen Building, where one man died in November in 2012, and the former Strand Hotel on Colby Avenue in 2011.
City Council members have called for tighter controls on building code enforcement to ensure downtown residents’ safety.

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