Demolition sweeps Newcomb chimney out of existence

From the night of the fire

Demolition continued Friday, a week after a late-night fire ripped through the Newcomb Hotel in downtown Quincy.

The work shifted its focus toward tearing down a large, 80-foot chimney at the rear of the now mostly demolished structure.

"They're taking that thing down by hand," Director of Building Inspection Michael Seaver said. "We felt it was probably the safest approach. We looked at all sorts of scenarios and we really felt like this was the only way that it could be done safely, even though it will take more time."

Police and fire investigators still haven't discovered what sparked the Sept. 6 fire that destroyed the long-vacant historic hotel. The fire came just under a week after city officials said it had a tentative developer for the building that is now tangled up in a foreclosure lawsuit and safety citations filed by the city.

The building owner, Skokie, Ill. developer Victor Horowitz of Newcomb Realty LLC, said he doesn't wish to speak about the hotel due to the ongoing legal battle with the city.

The city has pegged the cost estimate of the demolition at up to $500,000, but Mayor Kyle Moore and other city officials have said that estimate could change.

Seaver said that the city received a copy of a 2011 EPA asbestos study that says that there was only a negligible amount of asbestos in the building.

"We can treat all of the material as the demolition proceeds." said Seaver.

As for the cleanup of the site once it's secured, Seaver said that's a decision that the city council will eventually have to make. The Department of Inspection hopes to have a request for salvage proposals sent to the city finance committee on Monday. Once that is approved, the city can begin accepting bids for site cleanup.

Seaver also said it's too early to tell whether any of the materials from the building can be salvaged for future use or sale.

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