ADICA votes to purchase former NAPA building

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority voted 5-0 with one abstention to purchase a blighted downtown building for $129,564 Monday in hopes of rendering it usable for development.

The decision was made after discussion in a closed-door session.

Board member B.J. Fletcher made the motion to purchase the property at 124 Pine Ave. with a prorated tax payment.

The building, which formerly housed the NAPA Auto Parts store, is currently owned by Bob Brooks and has been largely cleaned out. The building's roof is missing, along with most of its top floor.

Downtown Manager Aaron Blair said the property will be evaluated and the board will either make a decision to demolish it or finish gutting it and getting it ready for occupancy.

"This property is one of the highest blighted properties in downtown, and one of our goals here is to change the image of downtown. To change the image, we have to change the blight," Blair said. "This property has a great location. It has great possibilities being so close to Front Street, the (Riverfront) park and the RiverQuarium, and has great potential for redevelopment."

Blair said an initial review of the structure leads him to believe that there may be some use for the existing facade of the structure -- a move that would keep the historical significance of the building intact.

"One thing we don't want to do is to continue to just knock down building after building, creating more gaps in the urban network that we have downtown," Blair said. "Our first goal would not be demolition, if we can save it and re-use it. But if it's determined that it's more beneficial to tear it down and have something new go up in its place, then that's what we'll do."

Board Chairman Andrew Reid said ADICA is not in the real estate-holding business and hopes to be able to off-load the property to a private developer soon.

"Anytime when we can develop a property and get it improved and get it back on the tax rolls, it's a big step for us," Reid said. "No matter what it ends up being, whether it's residential or a store or what, I think it's going to be just what we need to really get things started downtown."