That theory may bear out. But city records also show that the building changed hands in 2004, with $650,000 paid for what was an already ailing four-story building with 160 housing-code violations, including a dozen serious ones.
Down the street, Batson pointed out a now vacant six-family walk-up at 1015 Pacific, where a new owner paid a whopping $885,000 last year for a property that had more than 280 code violations, including repeated citations for failure to supply heat and hot water. At pre-dawn vigils held for the fire victims in recent weeks, Batson said he and others had spotted the building as "an accident or worse waiting to happen." He said the doors to the hallway and basement had been left wide open, and only a pair of tenants remained. Last week when he looked again, the tenants were gone. Workers had already begun interior demolition.