AUGUSTA – It could cost the city about $100,000 to demolish an abandoned, asbestos-laden apartment building attractive to vagrants, vandals and thieves.

Officials said last week that they have little hope of recouping any costs of the demolition from the apparently defunct California company that owns 6 Morton Place. And they feel they have no choice but to use city funds to remove what they say has become a hazard.

“This is one of those unfortunate situations, in my mind, where I fear Mr. Murphy and his law will kick in and something tragic will occur if we do nothing,” City Manager William Bridgeo said. “And there’s really no other responsible party we can go after.

“I have to tell you, I can’t see any other options open to us that responsibly address the concerns that police, fire, code enforcement and I have.”

Bridgeo said neighbors have reported squatters, vandals and drug users and dealers entering the abandoned three-story building. Thieves have ripped out the building’s copper pipes.

Fire Chief Roger Audette has expressed concern that the building is a fire hazard and that because of its tight confines and proximity to surrounding buildings, flames from a blaze there could spread to other, occupied buildings.

Demolishing the building could prove costly. Large numbers of asbestos shingles cover the entire exterior, said Bob LaBreck, facilities and systems manager for the city.

LaBreck estimates it could cost $46,000 to $56,000 just to get rid of the asbestos, and another $30,000 to $50,000 to demolish the dilapidated seven-unit apartment building, which is covered in graffiti.

“It’s a mess,” LaBreck said. “It’s covered in asbestos, and there is literally eight to 10 inches of debris on the floor, on every floor.

“You name it, it’s in there. It’s a tired building.”

Through a lengthy legal process, the city obtained the court’s permission to demolish the building, city attorney Stephen Langsdorf said.

It is owned by Zane Holdings LLC, which has owned it since purchasing it from local landlord Laurier Fleury in 2004.

Langsdorf said the city could “theoretically” recover some of the costs of demolition by obtaining a judgment against Zane Holdings. However, he said his research indicates the company essentially no longer exists, so the city has no real chance of collecting even if it did secure such a judgment.

“My opinion — it’s absolutely uncollectible,” Langsdorf said.

LeBreck said there is nothing of any salvage value left in the building.

Langsdorf said there were numerous liens and mortgages on the building, complicating the process of having it declared a dangerous building so it could be demolished.

He said Fleury, a lien holder on the building, has expressed interest in obtaining the land the building sits on for parking for other buildings he owns.

Bridgeo said the city would seek bidders to remove the asbestos and demolish the building.