Pete Sahagian, former owner of Sahaigan Auto Body, stands next to his shop a month before it was demolished by the City of South Milwaukee.
"I lost my business and my property," he said.The City of South Milwaukee said roof repairs do not meet building codes and - in a rare move - the city began demolishing the building on July 21. It will take two days to clear.
"The issue isn't time," said city attorney Joseph Murphy. "It's Mr. Sahagian's finances."
Murphy said the government has been patient, but that Sahagian simply cannot come up with money he needs to adequately upgrade the building and cover thousands in unpaid taxes.The auto shop's roof and electrical systems had failed inspections dating back to 2013, according to court documents. Sahagian, a Bronze Star medal recipient and fixture in the community for more than half a century, told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that the roof had been damaged during a storm and he had trouble securing his insurance claim to fix the roof.
"I believe he would like to fix the property," the city attorney said. "He just doesn't have the funds, hasn't had the funds and, after two years, it's become apparent he's not going to have the funds to do it."
Sahagian admitted he has had financial trouble, but hoped the auto body would survive for another generation. The shop owner did attempt to repair the roof himself for significantly less than building inspector Steve Petery estimated, but both Petery and an independent engineer said that the decking used was not suitable for the roof.
On June 15, Judge David Borowski ruled that Sahagian had to vacate the building by July 15, reported the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
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