City officials want to destroy the dilapidated Heritage House on Oglethorpe Boulevard, while the owners want to restore the structure.
ALBANY ALBANY, Ga. — Even as bank officials move to foreclose on the property, the defiant owners of the Heritage House Hotel are attempting to file an appeal to a superior court’s order that would allow the city to tear the property down as early as Monday.
Following a recommendation from a jury who determined the property was worthless, Judge Stephen Goss ruled last month that the city of Albany could demolish the Heritage House hotel after 30 days if the owners, Greenbriar Holdings L.L.C, had not completed the work.
Friday morning, the 30th day, the Dougherty County Clerk of Court received a notice of appeal but the document not only referenced the wrong case number but wasn’t signed by Greenbriar’s attorneys, making it an invalid document.
At some point in the afternoon, a signed appeal was filed with the court.
Even as the owners file the appeal for the demolition order, Capitol City Bank has filed a notice of foreclosure in The Albany Herald legal advertisements declaring its intention to seize the property to satisfy more than $310,000 in outstanding loans.
Capitol City Bank has the first tier lien position on the property which would be followed by the city of Albany if the city is allowed to demolish the property. At that point, the city would place a lien on the property for the cost of the demolition which would have to be paid in full before the property could be sold or developed.
City Attorney Nathan Davis said Friday that if a valid appeal to Goss’ order is filed Friday, the city will seek what in legal circles is known as a superseadeas bond to prevent the action from moving forward.
If granted by the court, this “appeal bond” would require Greenbriar to fork over what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash before the appeal could move forward. If they couldn’t or wouldn’t pay, the appeal would be dismissed and demolition could move forward.
“Basically, it protects the interests of the taxpayer from frivolous lawsuits, which we contend this is,” Davis said.
The scenario that is unfolding could be beneficial to the city if it had any desire of purchasing the property outright.
If Capitol City forecloses and becomes the owner of the property, the city could feasibly buy the property from the bank at a cut rate, demolish the building and then transfer the property to a development authority or land bank who could then sell it to a private developer and get it back on the tax rolls.
One hurdle to development as it currently stands is that if the city carries out the demolition, which is estimated to cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million, the owner would be forced to pay that money to the city before they could sell the property or build on it.
Given that the property itself is worth less than that, the options left for the owner and the city are few.
According to the Dougherty County Tax department, Greenbriar owes more than $26,000 in back property taxes on the property.
The county attempted to sell the tax lien on the property earlier this year at a public auction, but no one bought it.