Businessman discovers someone was tearing his building down, brick by brick

News-DemocratDecember 6, 2013 

— It's unlikely Superman broke through, so why is there a gaping hole in a downtown building? And the owner wants to know why no one in City Hall or police knows who was tearing his building down.

Richard Smith owns the building at 110 Main St. And for seven years he ran Richard Smith's Tax Service out of the building. Most recently, though, he was using the building to hold meetings for a project that he is trying to implement to create jobs and housing for the residents of East St. Louis, he said.

The project is called Sustainable Communities Resource Center. HUD's website describes the program as working to strengthen economies, to provide better quality of life to residents and build on assets like traditional main streets, agricultural and working lands and natural resources.

Assistant Police Chief Ronald Ike said detectives are investigating the case.

Smith said he was holding meetings in his building to discuss the project and when he went there on Sunday about 4 p.m. to get things ready for his meeting, he did his usual walk through. It was then that he discovered "a big gaping hole in the back wall," he said.

"I didn't know what to think or where to turn," he said. He said the building was being used and he was sure that people knew it. So, he has no idea why someone would authorize demolition, which to him is what lit looks like was going on.

"I saw some large tire tracks that looked like they came from some heavy-duty equipment."

Smith said he later learned that the gas to the building had been manually shut off.

City Manager Deletra Hudson said she was unaware of the situation until Monday when staff told her about it.

"We're conducting an investigation. We would also like to know how this happened. We did not authorize demolition of that building," She said.

Asked whether he has insurance, Smith said yes, but he is unsure whether the company will make him whole. The building is destroyed, he said.

The building is adjacent from the East St. Louis Police Department. Smith does not understand how someone could undertake something of such magnitude without police knowing about it.

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