The city of Lakewood has closed the B&I Public Marketplace for a litany of safety concerns, officials announced Thursday.
The building was closed Wednesday and “will remain closed until its owners can show they have addressed the public safety hazards identified by the city and West Pierce Fire & Rescue officials,” a news release stated.
Lakewood and West Pierce officials conducted inspections in April and June, identifying significant hazards, including:
▪ commercial kitchens without testing of fire suppression equipment
▪ fire protection equipment not working correctly
▪ sprinklers not covering the whole building or being painted over
▪ improper electrical wiring
▪ walls added and removed without permits.
Repeated attempts to contact the B&I’s owners were unanswered, the release states, including phone calls and certified letters.
After contacting the building owner’s agent, the B&I was given until Aug. 1 to show its owners were working to rectify the issues. The deadline was then extended until Tuesday.
The electrical report was provided to the city Wednesday, but the other reports have not been submitted.
“Public safety is always the city’s top priority; without these reports, we are unsure of the safety of this building,” Building Official Nancy Craig told B&I tenants in a letter Wednesday. “We understand this is a difficult situation and that this action has a financial impact on you. We appreciate your understanding of the severity of the situation and your cooperation.”
Owner agent Alex Noh said he is working as quickly as he can to remedy the hazards and reopen the B&I.
“Our top priority is to work with the city to get this reopened,” Noh said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t want to put blame on each other.”
He said much of the communication issues the city had in reaching him stemmed from letters being sent to an incorrect address.
When he was given notice by the city July 12, Noh said he immediately started working to rectify the issues.
“Most of the issues that they addressed, the time-consuming ones are at least minor,” Noh said. “We’re trying to open the building as soon as possible. We’re hoping to get it open next week with negotiations with the fire department and city.”
The building, which began as a hardware store in 1940, now plays host to a series of small businesses. It was likely best known as the home of Ivan, the beloved gorilla, who lived there from 1964 to 1994.
Noh has been the building agent since it was sold to Value Investment Group Inc. in January 2012 for $5.2 million.
State records show the owners are Daegeon Shin and Hyeyean Lee. Noh said the owners of the building live in Canada.