Phoebe to demolish buildings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe to demolish buildings

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Phoebe Assistant Vice President Jackie Ryan Phoebe Assistant Vice President Jackie Ryan

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   Vacant properties are a growing danger in Albany, they create more opportunities for crime and fires.

You might be surprised to know that Phoebe Putney Hospital is one of the largest owners of vacant buildings in central Albany, with at least 14 unused buildings there now. 

Hospital leaders say they're working to demolish more than a dozen of those vacant buildings. 

Phoebe Putney Hospital owns more than 170 properties in Dougherty County, and officials say they buy property close to the Hospital for future expansion if needed.  The hospital does not want the buildings on the property in many cases, and now they are working with the city's historical commission to demolish those buildings.

July 17th firefighters were called to 800 North Monroe Street because the vacant apartment building was on fire. Firefighters found signs that vagrants lived in the building owned by Phoebe Putney.   Hospital officials say they had boarded up the vacant building to code, but vagrants still busted in.

"It was apparently through the foundation, up through the floor, to the best of our knowledge," said Phoebe Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Jackie Ryan.

Firefighters are put in danger by these vacant building fires, because they have to assume that someone is inside and search.  Code enforcement officers say it's not just homeless looking for a place to sleep using vacant buildings, criminals use them too.

 "Drug dealers who stash their drug, to prostitutes who take their customers.  Gangs use them for gang initiations," said Albany Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson.

Phoebe Putney has been working on their vacant buildings, putting non-profits in them if possible. But now are working with the historical commission to demolish more than a dozen buildings.

"We are almost complete with what we want to demolish.  And what we need to demolish.  But again, because it is in the historical district, it does have to meet their parameters for what can be demolished," Ryan said.

Code enforcement admits there is almost no way to keep someone out of a vacant building if they want in, and that Phoebe has been a good steward of following city guidelines on vacant buildings.  Phoebe officials say they are not sure when they will reach agreement with the historical commission on the demolition plan, but they hope to start as soon as possible.

How dangerous are vacant buildings in Albany?  Code enforcement civilian employees are forbidden to enter a vacant house or building until it has been searched by one of their certified officers. City officials and firefighters say they are a magnet for crime,  want as many of them demolished as possible. 

Phoebe officials say they have been using many of those vacant buildings during the renovation of the main Hospital building.   They say when a building is demolished, they will do landscaping to beautify the area.

  • Click HERE to see a PDF list of the properties assigned to Phoebe on the Dougherty Co. tax rolls

 

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