City imposes $464,000 fine for unauthorized demolition of historic West Baltimore building

Baltimore’s housing department has imposed a $464,000 fine on the owner of a historic building in West Baltimore that city officials say was demolished without government permission.

The former St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum, which had been converted into apartments and was vacant, was torn down in February. The city’s Department of Housing and Community Development launched an investigation.

Councilman Eric Costello, whose district includes the building, shared a statement this week on social media from the department about the penalty. Housing officials confirmed that the penalty had been imposed.

The contact person for the company that owns the building, 1411 Division Street LLC, is listed in state records as Michael Chetrit, a New York businessman. He could not be reached for comment.

The building, parts of which dated back to the 1860s, was abandoned in 2013 and badly damaged by a fire in 2015 that required the response of more than 100 firefighters. The company linked to Chetrit bought it in 2016 for $866,000, according to property records.

City rules give a property owner 30 days to contest the penalty. Until the charge is paid, no more work permits will be issued for the property.

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of the Environment issued two violation notices to 1411 Division Street LLC and two to demolition contractor TCG Development Inc. saying the companies had violated asbestos rules. The citations each carry fines of up to $25,000 a day, but a department spokesman said a decision had yet to be made about whether to impose a penalty.

TCG Development could not be reached for comment.

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