Demolition makes way for garden

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Contractors on Wednesday began demolition of a 60-year-old downtown building to make way for an extended prayer garden for an Albany church.

According to public records, First United Methodist Church owns the property at 229 N. Jackson St. and sought permission to demolish the property from the city's historic preservation commission last October.

In its presentation to the commission, the city's planning department reported the building would be converted to greenspace to adjoin the church's existing prayer garden.

"This will improve the aesthetics of the area and provide a safer environment contributing to the overall character of the district," the report to the commission stated.

The demolition comes after contractors estimated the cost of rehabilitating the building to be somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000, which the report to the commission states is more than the property's assessed tax value, which the planning commission contends was $45,900.

Throughout the years, the property has been home to several different businesses and in 1999 it was sold to First Methodist by B.C. Gardner and Henri W. Gardner Estates for $75,000.

The historic commission unanimously approved staff's recommendation to approve the demolition of the building on Oct. 6.

The Albany City Commission gave final approval on Oct. 26, 2010.

On Wednesday, work crews put up caution tape around the building and part of the parking lot next to the Carnegie Library and the Municipal Auditorium, and moved in with a backhoe to begin demolition. By the end of the day, the building was gutted and only three partial walls were standing.