QUESTION: Why hasn’t anyone demolished the former home of Ace Cycle Sales since a fire tore through this business more than a year ago?
ANSWER: It may be that the charred remains of this motorcycle shop were simply more noticeable against the backdrop of this month’s back-to-back snowfalls. But for whatever reason, the old headquarters of Ace Cycle Sales at 2468 North Church Street has popped back up on the radar after more than a year of inactivity at this location.
Sherri Call, the office manager in Burlington’s inspections department, readily acknowledged this property’s sudden return to relevance when The Alamance News inquired about the defunct business earlier this week.
“It’s funny you should mention that,” Call told a reporter on Tuesday; “I just had a guy come in yesterday to apply for a demolition permit.”
Call went on to note that Adam Covington has a demolition application pending for the former motorcycle shop, which has remained vacant ever since a fire engulfed its premises on the afternoon of November 18, 2020.
According to Burlington’s fire department, which issued a news release shortly after the blaze, the fire which destroyed the cycle shop was called in at about 1:00 p.m., and it continued to spread rapidly even after firefighters arrived three minutes later. The fire’s intensity ultimately prompted the department to sound a second alarm to get more personnel on the scene, although it still took firefighters two hours to bring the conflagration under control.
At the time that the fire department dispatched its news release, the agency still hadn’t completed its inquiry into the cause of the fire. Nor had the department fully assessed the extent of the damage, which was nevertheless “expected to be substantial.”
The severity of this damage was certainly not lost on the city’s inspections director Russell Williams, whose department is ultimately responsible for the structural assessment of commercial buildings in Burlington.
“I have gone to the property myself to survey the damage,” Williams recalled in an interview Tuesday, “and I’ve reached out to the owners to see what their intentions have been.”
Williams added that it was the city’s fire department which eventually filled him in on the reason why the property’s ruinous state had persisted so long since the fire.
“What the hold up has been,” he said, “is that they believe the building was the target of arson, and you also have the insurance companies involved [in the investigation].”
Greg Britt, an assistant chief with Burlington’s fire department, confirmed that his agency has, indeed, determined arson to be the probable cause of the fire at Ace Cycle Sales.
“The origin and cause [inquiry] has been completed by the fire department,” Britt added in an interview Wednesday, “and it has been passed on to the police department.”
Founded in 1972 by Billie F. Brown, Ace Cycle Sales had operated as a family concern until its fiery demise. According to county real estate records, the deed to the property was held by Ruth L. Brown until a week after the fire, at which point, it passed into the hands of Billie F. Brown, Jr. and several other relatives, who remain the property owners on record with Alamance County’s tax office.
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