An unintended wall collapse on the Haste side of the Sequoia Building put a temporary halt on demolition work Wednesday. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The demolition of the Sequoia Building at 2441 Haste Street was temporarily halted after part of an exterior wall on Haste Street accidentally collapsed on Wednesday, causing a violation of the demolition permit. The result is that the building will now be taken down to a lower height than originally planned.

Kenneth Ent, the owner of the building, which suffered a devastating fire on November 18th, was issued a revised permit on Thursday which allows the demolition to take the storefront wall on Telegraph Avenue to a height no higher than 20 ft, while a small portion of the Haste Street exterior wall will be 15 ft.

The initial plan was to take both exterior walls to a designated height of 29.5 ft, after which they would be braced and to enable access to the building and adjacent streets. The west and north walls, as well as the interior of the building, are all set to be completely demolished, as per the first permit.

“There is lots of weakness in the brick building which is not possible to predict,” said Berkeley City spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross. “There has to be some flexibility given the safety issues.”

The fire, which began in the elevator machine room in the building’s basement according to an investigation by the Berkeley Fire Department, caused the loss of 39 apartments and at least two businesses: Café Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar & Grill. The long-term plans for the building and the site are as yet unknown.

A Berkeley building is turned into a heap of rubble, debris [12.01.11]
Sequoia fire accidental, started in elevator machinery [11.30.11]
Berkeley’s 95-year-old Sequoia Building is brought down [11.29.11]
Sequoia: Demolition imminent as tenants meet to complain [11.28.11]
The Sequoia Building: At heart of Berkeley’s rich heritage [11.23.11]
Friday’s fire “another hit in the face” for Telegraph Avenue [11.21.11]
“Largest fire since 1991″ leaves many locals homeless [11.19.11]
Devastating fire in apartment building, Haste at Telegraph [11.19.11]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...