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12A Tea House Leveled; Tire Store Coming

Workers demolish the former Oriental Wok Tea Room building on Thursday on Route 12A in West Lebanon. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Workers demolish the former Oriental Wok Tea Room building on Thursday on Route 12A in West Lebanon. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

West Lebanon — Remodeling of the former Oriental Wok Tea Room building to make it a tire store turned out to be a bad idea, and the contractor decided to tear the building down last week, a city official said.

The problem is that the contractor didn’t have city approval to demolish the building, Carmela Hennessy, the city’s Codes Department director, said Friday.

The site is planned to be a new store for Town Fair Tire, a New England tire retail chain. In September, the Lebanon Planning Board unanimously approved a 2,871-square-foot addition to the existing building to house five service bays and a tire storage area.

However, the contractor discovered that the walls of the existing building were not strong enough to support the addition and made the decision to tear it down and build a new building using the original foundation and footprint to support the addition, Hennessy said.

“I don’t think he was trying to do anything wrong. He just made a construction decision,” which deviated from the approved plans, she said.

Town Fair representative John Wypychoski, of New Haven, Conn., said Friday, he was not aware that the building was being torn down. The plans had called for removing the roof and using the existing building. He planned to talk with the city about the change. The company also has stores in Concord and Keene, N.H., he said.

Because of the hazardous state of the existing building, and in the interest of safety, the city will not shut the job down but will require the company to appear before the Planning Board tomorrow night before proceeding with the construction, she said.

“The building will be exactly like the old building, but will be structurally sound enough to support the addition,” she said.

Before its short life as the Oriental Wok Tea Room, an Asian buffet, the old building was the home to a number of other businesses, including Blockbuster Video, a Boston Market and an Einstein Bros. Bagels.