Resolution for Heritage House badly needed

For far too long, the old Heritage House on West Oglethorpe Boulevard has been an eyesore and a public health hazard.

The structure that once housed one of Albany’s premier conference centers and hotels is a dim shadow of its former self, a stark reminder of what years and years neglect can do a building. It’s only use these days is to provide a harbor for individuals engaging in illicit activities.

Unless there is a last-minute delay, on Monday, the fate of the building is to be the subject of a trial in Dougherty Superior Court.

Officials with the city of Albany have seen numerous efforts over the years to revitalize the Heritage House, and each has failed. City commissioners, who have heard constant complaints from residents whose properties are losing value because they are close to the blighted building and from people who see the eyesore as they drive by, have repeatedly called for the building to be demolished.

The owner of the building, Greenbriar LLC, contends it is a viable structure that can be revitalized and wants more time to develop a way to revive the Heritage House.

The situation went before Albany Municipal Court on March 1, and City Judge Willie Weaver sided with the city, giving Greenbriar four months to raze the building or allow the city to move in for the demolition work, which, because of asbestos abatement, will run up a price tag in the neighborhood of $900,000-$1.2 million.

Greenbriar officials, however, appealed the ruling to Superior Court, which brings us to Monday’s trial and, we hope, a conclusion.

And that conclusion should be what many in Albany have already concluded — it’s time to raze it.

The idea that this facility, for which there is a $14,000 overdue tax bill, will ever return to prominence as a conference center/hotel is a prospect that is as unlikely as a July snowstorm covering our sun-baked Georgia clay. Even the federal government, which has a habit of tossing money down rabbit holes with wild abandon, balked last year at a proposal to spend $16 million to revitalize the hotel.

At one time, the Heritage House was the place to go in Albany, but it has since outlasted its purpose and now it is time for it to go. In fact, it is past time to face reality about the Heritage House — and past time for the hotel to face a demolition crew.