Thursday, July 24 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:14:49 GMT
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening.More >>
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening. More >>
About 5:30PM, a Dougherty County jury ruled that the company that owns what used to be the Heritage House will have to tear it down.
Tuesday morning, Judge Stephen Goss will issue and order to Greenbriar Holdings to tear the structure down within 30 days, or the city of Albany will be allowed to do so.
If the city does the demolition, it will bill Greenbriar for its expenses. Should Greenbriar allow it to get to that point, the city will place a lien on the property until the bill is paid.
In Monday's trial, City Attorney Nathan Davis explained to jurors the Heritage House is dilapidated and unsafe. Code enforcement walked the jury through more than three dozen pictures from inside the hotel that show its disrepair.
"That building is just a shell of what it used to be, it's not habitable, it's not clean, it's unsanitary, it's a danger to public health safety and welfare," said City Attorney Nathan Davis.
Jurors saw pictures of condoms and soda cans used to smoke crack cocaine. Appraisers for the city value the broken down structure at around $800,000. They say it will cost about $1.2 million to tear it down, much less than the estimates to repair the broken structure.
"The value of that structure in relation to the cost to rehab the property and you hear the evidence in municipal court the low end is $10 million, the high end is $16 million," said Davis.
While Greenbrier Holdings couldn't be heard in court their attorney argues the company just needs more time to do something with the structure.
"Greenbrier has made every effort to make something out of the Heritage House Hotel," said Todd Jones of Anderson Jones, PLLC.
Davis argued that Greenbrier has had 10 years and has done little to fix the property, but Greenbrier blames the city for the permits they granted to Marvin Baptiste for demolition without properly checking to see if he could handle the asbestos abatement.
"The reason you see what you see today is because this party that bought it and the city issued a permit that they shouldn't have to this guy who did the work," said Jones.
Greenbrier's attorney says it's likely the property will sit vacant even if the hotel is torn down because of the million dollar debt the property will have tied to it.
Code Enforcement even set up motion sensitive camera to catch people going in and out of the property.
Greenbrier Holdings claims they tried to turn the building into dorms for Albany State University and senior and Veteran's housing but could not get any help from the city, state, or federal government.