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Judge requires bond for Heritage House owners

The owners of the Heritage House hotel have still yet to pay more than $26,000 in back property taxes.

ALBANY — Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Judicial Circuit granted a request Wednesday by the city of Albany to require the owners of the dilapidated Heritage House to post a $157,000 bond to continue their appeal of a demolition order.

A jury earlier this year ruled the former hotel on West Oglethorpe Boulevard was worthless, prompting Goss to order Greenbrier Holdings, owners of the property, to demolish the eyesore.

Greenbrier then appealed that decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which prompted the city to request the bond.

Assistant City Attorney Chimere Chisholm said Wednesday the bond is meant to shift the burden of protecting the general public from the former hotel from the taxpayers’ backs to the owner while they attempt what she called a delay tactic.

“The court has found that the building is a threat to the public safety and since the owners intend to continue what we believe to be purely a delay tactic by appealing the demolition order, we believe that the property owners rather than the taxpayers should be responsible for making the property safe,” she said.

Goss’ ruling Wednesday came after the city called three witnesses to the stand to testify — Chief Code Enforcement Officer Robert Carter, Assistant Albany Police Chief Mark Scott and City of Albany Budget Officer Larry Johnson.

No one from Greenbrier — neither lawyers nor witnesses — was on hand to represent the interests of the company.

According to the Dougherty County Tax Department, Greenbrier Holdings principal owner Romeo Comeau still owes more than $26,000 in back property taxes on the building, which was unsuccessfully put up for auction at a tax sale earlier this year.

The building also is being foreclosed upon by Capitol City Bank, Chisolm said in court.

If Comeau and Greenbrier are unable to pay the $157,000 bond within 20 days, they could face having their appeal dismissed.

City Manager James Taylor said that the tide of public sentiment is rising high on the city’s notion that the building is unsalvageable.

“The citizens of Albany are sick and tired of that building sitting there. We’ve been talking with the bank, the property owners and everyone we can to help mitigate the cost of cleaning up the property ... they’ve done some work, but they haven’t done nearly what they need to do,” Taylor said. “The citizens are ready to get on with it, the commission is ready to act on it, but we’re stuck in the legal side of it for the short term it appears.”

Even if the city were given the go-ahead to tear the building down, demolition costs would be staggering.

Estimates put razing the building at somewhere between $800,000 and $1.2 million. Then the question arises about what happens to the property once it’s cleared.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Dn54-FaMPY

Comments

LuLu 2 years, 3 months ago

What valid reason could they possibly have for appealing the demolition order? Can't they see it's a dangerous eyesore? Don't they understand what the word "ownership" means?

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 3 months ago

Total stall tactic. We all know the City is going to have to pay eventually to have this thing destroyed. Greenbriar has never come up with anything except for attorneys' expenses and ways to draw this thing out longer than it should've been. Let this thing die and let's move on with life. I hope the Greenbriar folks will eventually have to pay the City's attorneys' fees for this frivolous nonsense.

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Amazed2 2 years, 3 months ago

They want to stall the demo as long as possible while they work their Washington/Federal Connections. This Heritage House project could be a FAT Cash Cow project if they can get the Feds and the City of Albany involved in getting Goverment Funds to renovate this thing. Last I heard they had been trying to get about $16,000,000 to $18,000,000 MILLION to renovate it. I believe including the main Heritage House building and some seperate single story units to be constructed onsite they want to develop about 160 Low Rent apartments. Do the math that is more than $100,000 each for the apartment units and most of the units would be in the main OLD Heritage House Building. You should be able to Demo this building for $500,000 to $1,000,000 max. If we need 160 low rent units I guarantee you there are well qualified architects and engineers right here in Albany Georgia that can save at least a few million dollars over the budgets requested to renovate the Heritage House into 160 units.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

John I rivers was a player on this proposed project just as he was with Grovetown, the failed Cutliff project, and the unoccupied 49 unit Dalewood Estates project which also involved Greenbriar and John White et al. Romeo Comeau, principal in Greenbrier, is into Capitol City Bank for $218,000 on 4 pc Highland property that was to be part of the HH project which was foreclosed on 12/11/2011.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Let Capitol City foreclose and have the problem. If they foreclose, they are the owner and I would think would be liable for the teardown.

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 3 months ago

This ugly crap is going to be around forever.....this is a legal nightmare....Albany loses again

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

Why the low bond? Why not make the bond equal the cost of demolition and haul away they are trying so hard to prevent? If memory serves correctly, bonds in cases involving settlements that are appealed have been in the amount of the settlement. Why not something similar here?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

We should all email John I Rivers at JRIVERS@JIRA-ARCHITECTS.COM and tell him we all think he is a crook.

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