Building owner Peter Floros surveys the scene of an April 10 fire with city officials in this Portsmouth Herald file photo. Floros is seeking to demolish the damaged remains of what's known as the Daily Times building in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but the local Historic District Commission has rejected that plan. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — A lawyer for the owner of the Daily Times building said his client’s next step will be to file an appeal in Superior Court of the Historic District Commission’s rejection of his request to demolish the building, which was heavily damaged in an April fire.

“The next step is definitely Superior Court unless we reach some sort of agreement with the city,” attorney John Kuzinevich said Thursday.

His comments came a day after the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to deny building owner Peter Floros a rehearing on his appeal to the board of the HDC’s decision not to grant Floros a demolition permit for the historic Daily Times building at 278 State St.

He declined to predict if he thought Floros and the city could reach an agreement so the building owner wouldn’t have to file an appeal in Superior Court.

“We’re always open to negotiations, but if we have to go to court, we will,” Kuzinevich said.

Floros continues to believe the 1850 Daily Times building suffered too much damage for the structure to be rebuilt in a way that’s financially feasible, Kuzinevich said.

It appeared in mid-December that the city and Floros might have reached a resolution when the HDC unanimously approved a resolution that called for Floros to rebuild the Times building instead of demolishing it. In addition, the resolution called for allowing Floros to erect a new four-story building on the adjacent lot where two three-story buildings that housed the State Street Saloon once stood.

Both properties are owned by Floros. An April fire destroyed the two buildings adjacent to the Times building.

The plan in December anticipated that Floros would preserve the facades facing the street and the other walls while basically rebuilding the entire inside of the building. But then Floros hired Kuzinevich, who also represents Portsmouth of Toyota owner James Boyle in his more-than decade long legal fight with the city, and a planned January HDC meeting with Floros was canceled.

The ZBA in November unanimously rejected Floros’ appeal of the HDC’s decision not to grant him the demolition permit. But that decision came with a stipulation that “only the facades that face the street front must be fully preserved,” according to ZBA Chairman David Rheaume.

During Wednesday night’s meeting, ZBA member Arthur Parrott noted the “grounds for appeal” that would lead to a rehearing are “very specific.”

“It’s not a case of going back over the same arguments,” Parrott said, and added he thought the board came to a “reasonable decision.”

Attorney John Bosen, who also represents Floros, stated in his request for the rehearing that at the HDC meeting in December it was clear the “prevailing sentiment” was that all four walls of the Daily Times building “must remain standing.” Because of that sentiment, “a workable solution preserving only the State and Court street facades is unlikely to emerge from further work with the HDC,” Bosen stated.

It’s clear the HDC will “insist that the entire building shell be preserved, despite the overwhelming burden achieving code compliance will create,” Bosen said.

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