Action on the Heritage House? Really? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Action on the Heritage House? Really?

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Albany's City Manager says he'll have a recommendation on what to do with the old Heritage House Hotel as soon as next month.

Al Lott has been talking with the owners of the dilapidated building who want help from the city to fix it. That's not feasible, but the city might buy the property outright or through eminent domain.

There's no doubt the old Heritage House hotel is an ugly eyesore on one of Albany's most heavily traveled thoroughfares. But for years, no realistic plans have been proposed to renovate the building into a usable property.

"The owner has exhausted the available efforts to him," said City Manager Alfred Lott. "Neighborhood stabilization program, he hoped to get some assistance there, that didn't work, he doesn't seem to have the means to handle the debt and demolish the building and abate the asbestos hazard."

And the city commission is tired of waiting. "It's clear to me that the Mayor and Board of Commissioners want to take some action within the next three months," Lott said.

While they haven't been formally proposed, there are three likely options.

The first is to do as the city has done with other blighted properties, get a court order and demolish the building. "If we demolish it per court order, it may just sit there as any empty lot for a very long time," Lott said.

And with a lien placed against the property for the amount of money it costs the city to demolish it, it would be hard to find someone to buy the property, and that's why the city could also consider purchasing the property from the current owners.

"If we acquire it commercially, we could put it back on the tax roles and possibly put some other hotel or mixed use in a very critical location downtown," Lott said.

And then there is also the possibility of taking the property through eminent domain, but that limits how the property can be used for future purposes.

"If we take it by way of eminent domain, we have to use it for some public function, we cannot turn it around and sell it and put it on the market," said Mayor Dr. Willie Adams.

But the priority now is to take the blight off the market, and get the eyesore cleared off the landscape of Albany. 

Even if the city purchases the building,  it will have to remove asbestos. That plus demolition could cost up to $1.6 million, and that doesn't include the purchase price of the building.

The current owners bought for $750,000.

 

©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved. 

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