Digging Deeper: Heritage House history - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Heritage House history

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Criminal Activity around the vacant Heritage House hotel is prompting the Albany city commission to demand the building be secured.

Tuesday they said they can't wait for the owners appeal later this year.  It's not the first time the issue of the hotel has come before a judge.

It's things like the hole in the fence that have commissioners calling for action now, although they hope this case will be resolved later this year, allowing for some action on the building.

In the 70's and 80's the stretch of West Oglethorpe Boulevard where the Heritage House hotel sits was home to several hotels and a vibrant nightlife.

"Even it its later years when the VFW would come here for the weekend, they would fill this place up," said Joe Coleman who lives directly behind the building.

Big name entertainers performed in the ballroom. The property's gone a long way down hill since then. Now the hotel's fate will be argued in the courtroom in August.

"That's a type of matter where the judge wants to know exactly what each side contends," said Albany City Attorney Nathan Davis.

The hotel closed in 1994. Digging Deeper, we learned there were several attempts to reopen it. It was used for flood victims and by ASU students after it closed. In 1998 the General Missionary Baptist Church was going to renovate and reopen it, that never materialized. The most recent attempts began in 2006 when then owner Marvin Baptiste began renovations, but neighbors remember those efforts were stopped when asbestos was found in the building.

"They were going to demo to a certain level and then they were going to build back and I don't think they knew what they were really going to do," said Coleman.

Baptiste was brought into court when the city tried to force him to come up with a comprehensive plan to do something with the building. The property is now owned by Greenbriar Investments of North Carolina who were called into court earlier this year for back taxes on the property. The city won a judgement earlier this year for the building to be torn down, but a last minute appeal will send them back to court this fall.

"The worst case scenario is an October trial date and we're hoping by the time we show up in August the court has found a September court date," said Davis.

Residents say they're fed up with delays and its time for something to happen.

"I think it's been plenty of time, this should have, this should have started up five years ago," said Coleman.

They'd like to see the property re-developed but if it can't be, they'll take a vacant lot over what stands there today.

Albany Police report they try to patrol the building as much as possible, but can't station an officer here 24 hours a day. They also pointed out there are more than 200 properties across the city in the same condition that also demand their attention.

If property owners don't like the outcome of the fall hearing they could appeal that ruling as well, leaving the case, to be examined by a higher court and taking more time.

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