Historic Montgomery Gas Station Torn Down Without Approval


By Catalina Trivino

From Montgomery -- questions about why a historic building downtown has been torn down... and whether it's allowed.

This lot is now completely bare. It used to be home to the old Pan-Am Gas Station off Coosa Street. It was built in the 1920's. But now, it's gone...

"First of all, you just can't go do it. You've got to present a plan to the Architecture Review Board and their questions are, 'what are you going to put there after you tear it down?' And they're involved in the process all the way through... and none of this happened," Said Jim Yeaman, former chair of the Montgomery Historic Development Commission.

It's part of the Lower Commerce Historic Site, so it's protected by a city ordinance that says it's unlawful to demolish any structure within a historical district. The situation is leaving some people in the community furious...

"A friend of mine posted on Facebook, 'there's a demolition in progress' and we just said, what in the world is going on here? So I began to talk with contacts with the city to see if we could ascertain what had happened and nobody seemed to know anything about it," Said Yeaman.

That's when we asked Deputy Mayor, Jeff Downes, why the site is now history. He tells us he was not aware of the demolition until after it happened. He says the owner or contractor was supposed to get permission from the city.

"Because the private party did not seek a building permit, we were not able to accomplish those review mechanisms and at this point in time, we're in a fact-gathering stage," Said Downes.

Yeaman says it's left many upset, including nearly one hundred people who have signed a petition that says they're requiring the owner of the property to reconstruct the building."

Temoving this building could mean taking it up with the municipal court judge. Additionally, violating the city ordinance could cost the owner or contractor up to $500.

We did try to reach out to the owners, but the city would not release their name. The Pan-Am Gas Station is also in the National Register of Historic Places.