What's next for the Ghost Ship property?

The future of the Ghost Ship property in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood remains unknown. The building owner, Chor Ng, applied for a demolition permit with Oakland’s Planning Department last year, but the permit expired in February with the 10,000 square feet gutted structure standing today. 

Last August, the Ng family filled out the first permit application incorrectly. They have not submitted a new one, according to a city records. Calls by 2 Investigates to the family have not been returned. 

Impact on neighbors

It has been two and a half years since a massive blaze at the artist collective trapped and killed 36 people during an overnight party. Neighbors, like Jeff Sirivath who lives down the street, said they are fed up with waiting for the property to be cleaned up.

“It’s just not a very good feeling when you have to take your kids around it,” he said. “It makes it seem like it’s okay to just leave Oakland the way it is.”

Sirivath said the property has mostly been left alone, but it has attracted some vandalism. Graffiti could be seen around the building and fencing. 

“It’s something that’s beyond my control, but I would like whoever is in control to take accountability,” Sirivath said.

Demolition process (when it begins)

If or when the building owner obtains a demolition permit, Ng or her two children Kai and Eva who helped manage the property, will have to work with a restoration company to contain hazardous materials first. This step is crucial and is required before any demolition work can begin. 

Construction consultants tell 2 Investigates the contrainment process is complicated and expensive. Containment experts will have to bag samples and test for lead and abestos. This process can take several weeks or several months, according to experts. 

This “remediation” process, along with the actual demolition, can cost anywhere from $2-4 million.

Even with the more than $3 million the Ng’s may have received in insurance money in 2017, experts say they would be shocked if the owners have any of that money leftover afterwards.

Plans for a memorial 

Family members of the fire victims said they want some sort of permanent memorial at the site to help remember the 36 lives lost.

“It hasn’t been decided exactly what that might be, but, significantly, the Ng’s have agreed there can be a memorial there,” said attorney Mary Alexander who represents the families of 13 of the victims.

Alexander said the families want a memorial not just for them to remember what happened.
“A memorial for the city of Oakland and to remind all those who are running this city not to have this happen again,” she said.