Hudson building still too unsafe to evaluate

Tanya, Teri and Timothy Woo examine the perimeter of their family’s Hudson Building on Wednesday morning, one day after receiving the structural engineer’s report on its condition. (Photo by Sue Misao/NWAW)

The long-term future of the Hudson Building that caught on fire on Dec. 24 is still unknown because it is not safe for inspectors to go inside, according to the Seattle Department of Planning and Building. On Jan. 14, the department received a formal report from the structural engineering firm of Swenson Say Faget, hired by the building’s owners, the Woos. The report outlines the current state of the building, immediate recommendations for stabilizing the structure, and required safety measures.

Engineers could not examine the inside of the building due to its instability, said Bryan Stevens, spokesman for the Planning Department. “It’s likely that an evaluation of the interior to determine the long-term future will not be completed until the building is stabilized for safe entry.”

On Wednesday, after receiving the report, members of the Woo family toured the exterior of the building to discuss their options.
Fire damage was limited mostly to the western side of the building, where much of the burned roof collapsed to the third floor, and some to the second floor.

All of the damage to the first floor came from water, according to the report, which recommended limited access to some tenants on the eastern side of the building, once the water-soaked ceiling tiles are removed. Even then, the engineers recommended tenants only enter their buildings two to four hours per day, during daylight hours. They also recommended that no tenants on the western side of the building should go inside until it has been stabilized.

The alley next to the building remains closed due to risk of falling masonry.

Some of the report’s recommendations include bracing the westernmost unreinforced masonry wall, bracing or removing some first-floor ceiling systems, shoring up the basement to provide access to fire investigators and others, and bracing the east-west partitions. It also suggested some partial demolition of free-standing portions of unreinforced walls.

Last week, city staff met with the affected business owners, representatives of the Woo family, the Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area, Department of Planning and Development, Office of Economic Development, and Department of Neighborhoods to discuss available loan programs, permitting assistance for relocating tenants, and the status of the existing building.

“Emergency situations like this are tragic and given top priority for assistance with recovery,” said Stevens. (end)

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