Could Heritage House live again? -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Could Heritage House live again?

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  There's a new proposal to fix up one of Albany's largest and most unsightly eyesores.

The old Heritage House Hotel has been empty since 1995.  The city has repeatedly given different owners chances to renovate it instead of tearing it down. The latest plan would require millions of dollars in tax money.

On March 5th, the city manager's office received the latest proposal from Greenbrier Holdings and Investments.  The company proposes creating affordable housing units at the old building, but they want your money to do it, as much as $5.9 Million in ADICA money and federal funds.  

If anyone knows what kind of impression the Heritage House Hotel makes on people, it's J. B. Womack of Thrifty Car Rental.

"Us being a car rental, they fly into the airport, we bring them here and I have to introduce them to the great Heritage Hotel and I just wish it was something a little more appealing," he said.

Instead, the folks that use Thrifty Car Rental are often a little offput by the hotel next door.

"It's just such an ugly eyesore, it attracts what I feel is attention from undesirables," said Womack.

And the city knows that. "Having been here all these years, I've watched it get worse over the last 15 years, at least, and clearly it's a terrible eyesore for us and our downtown," said Asst. City Manager Wes Smith.

Yet, nothing has been done to improve it.  The city has put off tearing the structure down, in hopes that the owners will put the money up to redevelop the building.
But the latest proposal would need public dollars to pull it off.

"Frankly, I'm not sure putting public money out there is either prudent or legal and that's why we want to meet with them and talk with them again," said Smith.

To see if what the owners are proposing is feasible, or another Heritage House fantasy.  
Womack says if public dollars are used, they should be used wisely.

"If they do pay for it, get rid of it," said Womack.

Rid of an old, ugly eyesore that has stood in the city for far too long. The proposal for the project budgets a total of almost $8 million for the renovation. More than half of that is proposed to come from ADICA or federal funds.

City staffers will meet with the property owners next week about the property. They'll then take a recommendation to the city commission.


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