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

Digging Deeper: Heritage House costs

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Twelve jurors decided late Monday that Albany's biggest eyesore should be torn down.

During a hearing Monday, the city attorney argued the old Heritage House is unsafe and dilapidated.

Jurors didn't hear the owners side because they failed to secure an in-state attorney after their previous council withdrew from the case.

Even after demolition, the property may not be of any use.

Twelve Dougherty County jurors heard arguments from the city that the dilapidated, unsafe Heritage Hotel should be torn down. Although city attorney Nathan Davis believes it should be up to Judge Stephen Goss to determine the law.

"You have engineering questions, you have value questions, so I would think no matter what court, it goes to its viewed as a non-jury trial, the court felt otherwise," said Albany City Attorney Nathan Davis.

The city had the burden of proof and rolled out evidence from code enforcement officers of drug and sexual activity occurring on the property. Today Greenbrier Holdings & Investment's attorney said ultimately they would like the jury to give them more time to deal with the building and find a use for it.

"It would take some time, I mean we're in the worst economic shape across the country that we've ever have been and the owner of the property Greenbrier is also caught up in that," said Todd Jones, of Anderson Jones, PLLC, representing Greenbrier Holdings & Investments LLC.

Greenbrier claims the building is still structurally sound and is worth around $3.0 million, but city estimates are much lower at $800,000. They say on the low end it would take 10 million to make it habitable, versus 1.2 million to reduce it to dust.

"The city wants to spend a million and a half dollars of taxpayer money to tear the building down and it really doesn't make financial sense to the city," said Jones.

Because with that debt passed to Greenbrier Holdings in the form of a lien on the building, nothing is likely to be done with the property.

"The city's lien takes precedent over the bank's lien so the bank has no incentive to foreclose or take that property back over to resell to somebody. Greenbrier has no incentive to mess with it if there's a $1.5 million lien on the property and for all intensive purposes Greenbrier will be out of it," said Jones.

City Attorney Nathan Davis and Code Enforcement seem to believe a vacant lot would be better than what's on the property now.

Greenbrier Holdings will have 30 days to begin demolition or file an appeal. If no action is taken the city can begin the demolition and put a lien on the property for the cost.