Eyesore moving closer to demolition

With the owner of the dilapidated Heritage House abandoning its challenge of a court order that would allow the city of Albany to demolish the building, one of Albany's most visible blights may finally be on the way toward removal.

This battle over a facility that is past recovery has gone far too long already, and it is time to close the book on what was once a thriving conference center, nightspot and hotel.

The final chapter of the Heritage House will be a costly one to write -- anywhere from $800,000 to $1.2 million because of asbestos abatement. But, as we have said before, this will be addition by subtraction. The community will benefit when this health hazard that has become a haven for squatters, prostitutes and drug abusers no longer fouls that landscape. The pie-in-the-sky plans that were pronounced for it from time to time may have sounded good to some, but the sound was, in the end, always hollow.

Many in town remember when the Heritage House was one of the most active places in the city, hospital Chamber of Commerce events, conventions and other events. Those memories make the building's current state appear all the more deplorable.

"I think we're all looking forward to having that property cleared and no longer having to worry about a building that was not only an eyesore, but a threat to the safety of the general public," Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, whose campaign focused on ridding the city of blighted properties, said Wednesday.

City Manager James Taylor says the removal of the last obstacle to razing the structure should allow the city to move more rapidly toward its plan to tear down the Heritage House, though he noted that the hazardous material, such as the asbestos, will keep the pace deliberate.

And that is understandable. The last thing anyone should want is for the removal of a health hazard to cause health problems in the area.

The good news is that three years of haggling is apparently over and an eyesore is on its way toward removal.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board