Phoebe, Albany Tech learning community project on hold

Phoebe, Albany Tech learning community project on hold
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 7:16 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Construction on the Phoebe and Albany Technical College Living and Learning Community is on hold.

This comes as the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) filed an appeal in the Dougherty County Superior Court. The project will be on pause until a superior judge makes a ruling.

The HPC filed an appeal with the superior court Monday, days after Phoebe announced they were starting to make some progress at the old Albany Middle School.

HPC members like Bryant Harden hope the superior court will find that the city commission erred when they overturned the ruling, arguing that the HPC abused its discretion.

Bryant Harden is the chair of the Albany Dougherty County Historic Preservation Committee.
Bryant Harden is the chair of the Albany Dougherty County Historic Preservation Committee. (WALB)

“It’s important to note that the HPC did not deny the idea of the living and learning center. Rather the HPC denied demolition of five historic properties,” said Harden.

In a statement, Phoebe officials said this appeal puts a hold on their progress.

“The Historic Preservation Commission’s filing in Dougherty Superior Court puts the vital Phoebe Albany Technical College Living and Learning Community project on hold. This project is already on a tight timeline, and any delay could prevent an expanded Albany Technical College nursing program from opening in the proposed new location by fall 2024 as currently planned. We must be allowed to complete this project to increase the pipeline of available nurses in our region and provide much-needed economic development for Albany,” Phoebe officials said in a statement.

“It is our hope the HPC will reconsider its decision to deny the certificates of appropriateness. We believe the HPC would be in full compliance with its responsibilities by withdrawing its appeal and permitting the project to go forward, given Phoebe’s commitment to honor the historical nature of the property and given the crucial necessity of this program to the delivery of healthcare in our community. If the HPC determines to pursue the appeal, we are confident in the position of the city commission and hope to resolve the legal barriers to construction as soon as possible.”

City Attorney Nathan Davis said city officials are confident in their ruling.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting the city appointed four new members to the board. Two members had stepped down, but the other two members were up for reappointment and the city replaced them.

The two up for reappointment were Bruce Capps and Jennifer Davis, two people the HPC chair said voted against demolition.

“Unfortunately, I believe that those commissioners were not reappointed because of their vote in July,” said Harden.

Chad Warbington is the Albany city commissioner for Ward 4.
Chad Warbington is the Albany city commissioner for Ward 4.(WALB)

City Commissioner Chad Warbington said that’s not the case.

“It’s a normal 2-year process. There may be an appearance of them being connected, but they’re not. It just happened right after a very controversial heated vote,” said Warbington.

The city attorney said there’s no timeline on when the superior court has to decide..