0

Demolition begins on the Heritage House

Oxford Construction workers tape up plastic sheeting along the exterior of the former Heritage House hotel Thursday. Oxford began demolition and environmental cleanup on the facility and adjacent homes.

Oxford Construction workers tape up plastic sheeting along the exterior of the former Heritage House hotel Thursday. Oxford began demolition and environmental cleanup on the facility and adjacent homes.

Albany, Ga. - Demolition and environmental cleanup work began Thursday on the former Heritage House hotel site with work expected to be completed by September 30, officials say.

Work crews were putting up plastic sheets and taking measures to seal up the exterior of the hotel itself ahead of work to remove asbestos from the building. Two adjacent structures associated with the structure and located behind the hotel were leveled Thursday.

Oxford Construction had purchased the security deeds for both the hotel site and the adjacent structures from Capitol City Bank and foreclosed on the property, which had previously been owned by Greenbriar Holdings, LLC. When Greenbriar owner Romeo Comeau failed to purchase the property by a Tuesday deadline, Oxford began staging on the site, city officials say.

Oxford has until Sept. 30 to finish clearing the hotel site, under an agreement with the city. If the site is leveled and cleared by October 15, the city will purchase the new site for $1.1 million, officials say.

The intent would then be to sell the property to a private developer who would then create a private development on the site.

"Absolutely," City Manager James Taylor said. "Our intent is to get it into the hands of a private developer who will begin building something immediately that will generate revenue and get it back onto the tax rolls."

Taylor says he's already had interested developers knock on his door to inquire about the future of the property.

The $1.1 million price tag will be funded through a mix of federal Community Development Block Grant funding and local tax dollars from the city's general fund, Taylor said.

On March 27, the City Commission voted 5-0-1, with Mayor Dorothy Hubbard abstaining and Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff absent, to enter into an arrangement with Oxford to ultimately obtain the Heritage House property.

The demolition has been a long time coming.

The city has twice had to take the owners to court in an effort to get court-ordered demolition permits, which it now has. Last year, a jury ruled that the property “had no value” and was a threat to the public health, safety and welfare.

But it wasn’t until owner Romeo Comeau decided not to appeal a Superior Court decision to tear the property down that the city got the go-ahead to demolish the structure.

Since that time, Taylor says that he’s been working to find a viable option to tear the building down quickly but in a way that’s financially feasible for taxpayers.

“Given the circumstances, this is the best deal we could negotiate,” Taylor said following the March 27 vote. “We’re trying to get it down as quickly as we can, as cheaply as we can.”

Taylor said that Oxford had proven itself with demolition of the Pritchett Ford building — a blighted structure on Slappey Boulevard that had stood for years and eventually came down when Oxford negotiated terms with the bank that was in possession of the building.

Comments

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

I know everyone will be happy to see it go, but just remember Oxford's bid wasn't the lowest bid and the city gave the bid to Oxford which was illegal since theirs was higher than the lowest bid. The city had a chance to save some money and perhaps use it towards their screwed up budget. So thank them for a tax increase when it comes.

0

Jusayn 1 year, 10 months ago

Not accepting the low bid is not illegal.

2

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

You must be a commissioner or Nathan Davis. LOL

0

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

And also can you cite the law saying it is NOT illegal? If not, then shut the front door.

0

whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

Works for me! But I am interested in the "adjacent structures". Please identify all the adjacent structures involved. This is good use of CDBG funds which typically go to build more subsidized structures. But I also wonder if there were other CDBG funds that could have been reapplied to this use to avoid using local taxpayer money.

0

dingleberry 1 year, 10 months ago

I'll bet those developers are fighting to knock on Jim's door to get this property. I really hope they have more possible uses in mind for this property than I can come up with. As is said with business real estate--location, location, location. Not a good one for other than a drive up drug store of the illegal variety.

0

J.D._Sumner 1 year, 10 months ago

Kaos, what bids are you talking about? The city didnt bid this out ( which I have a problem with) bc it was a real estate transaction. From what I'm told, Oxford came to the city asking to do it.

As for CDBG funds, those can only be spent on Demo work in this particular instance, not real estate acquistion. So, in essence the city is using CDBG funds to cover the demo costs which is capped at $500k, and the rest from the general fund. At least that's how it's been explained to me.

1

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

Well that other company put in a bid to tear it down over two years ago, thinking it was going to be a bid on the project. The city never bothered to tell the company that. I find it strange that Oxford came to the city and offered to buy it, tear it down and then resell back to the city. I am with everyone else and it should have been torn down by Capital City. Thanks for clarifying J.D. but I find it fishy also.

0

J.D._Sumner 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh and as for the adjacent structures, there were three blighted and vacant homes also owned by Greenbriar that defaulted to Capitol City Bank. So, in essence, it's a packaged deal.

0

whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

JD, Oxford bought four properties--three Highland, one Van Buren--behind the Heritage House from Capitol City, who as you say foreclosed on the property earlier, for $121,600. If these four are included in the "teardown" package, and the taxpayers buy them as part of the package, don't you consider this a little strange since Capitol City has the money to do its own "dirty work"? If we are paying, are we setting a new policy on who pays in the future? As I recall, another bank paid for the same type effort on the Pritchett Property. Why is the work being done on Capitol City work different? Did the Commission discuss this strategy with the City Manager and approve of it?

There is another issue in play. Another property behind the HH, and also on Highland, is occupied and not considered blighted. If we take a course of action to tear down and "package". wouldn't this property have to be part of the package? What good are the Highland properties without this one? How do we get it from the owner and where does the money come from? For whatever reason, I don't think we have gotten full disclosure on this transaction.

1

J.D._Sumner 1 year, 10 months ago

It's hard to tell what was discussed because they can legally shield it from the public bc of the real estate exemption to open meetings. Once the property closes, however, all of that info comes to light.

It's not my job to think. It's my job to report. But I will say that when it comes to demo work, that if the city were to have carried out the demo before Oxford bought the property, it could have only put a lien on the property for the cost of the work. Capitol City would then own the property and have a clean slate to sell to a developerso it appears as if it would have been a wash, except that developers may not be aeager to pay the city's lien and could walk away from the property.

0

coachjohnson42 1 year, 10 months ago

I credit the Mayor for her efforts to rid the city of terrible looking buildings.....I will take it!

0

MRKIA 1 year, 10 months ago

THE MAYOR ISN'T RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THIS DEMOLITION TO FRUITION, THIS WAS ONGOING BEFORE SHE BECAME MAYOR. SHE DID NOTHING NOTABLE AS A COMMISSIONER.

1

benh1936 1 year, 10 months ago

J D Sumner, not your job to think? Strange response. It looks like you also did not fully respond to "Dingleberry's" questions and comment. I am quite disturbed by this whole Heritage House deal. It really sounds fishy to me and to many other folks. We get no satisfactory response from our so called leaders here and no real help from our press either. What are the tax paying citizens that care about this town to do? Weep and moan and let it all pass us by? I want answers, real answers. Is that too much to hope for? And why don't you reporters have to "think"?

1

dingleberry 1 year, 10 months ago

Uh, I see what you are saying but I am not the one that said it.

0

Shinedownfan 1 year, 10 months ago

Hey, get off J.D.'s back! At least he is responding to your comments. Other web sites don't do this. This is one of the reasons I like The Albany Herald's website. J.D. And Terry actually respond to us! Now... If we could just get Carlton Fletcher to.

1

J.D._Sumner 1 year, 10 months ago

A journalist's job is to report not to interpret or opine. If we started telling what we "think" on issues that we report on, then people can question our objectivity.

Dingleberry didn't ask any questions. As far as locations go, there are reasons business owners do market studies before they develop locations.

1

Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

JD is right it is Not his job to think about issues and give his opinion. JD is a Journalist (aka Reporter) he finds the news story and reports all the information and leaves it to us to research and form our own opinions. Otherwise JD would just be another Editor of the facts. Think of it as your eyes and ears as to what goes on around Albany. In no way is JD anyone’s mouth piece and he may not always get every little detail but he is working hard to place all the facts he can find on the table for us to review and make up own minds.

Thank you JD

1

Cartman 1 year, 10 months ago

I thought the Heritage House gave Oglethorpe Blvd, the quaint "Mogadishu" look. I'll be glad to see it gone. Even if it ends up being an empty field of grass, it would be an improvement. As far as the financial part of it is concerned; who knows what kind of deal was struck and how it got there. Face it. This city doesn't have a reputation for transparency and square dealings. So pardon everyone's skepticism.

0

Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

O but this city does have a reputation for transparency and square dealings. Transparent as mud and round pegs in square deals should fuel everyone's skepticism.

0

VietVet1 1 year, 10 months ago

"The $1.1 million price tag will be funded through a mix of federal Community Development Block Grant funding and local tax dollars from the city's general fund, Taylor said."

Don't you just love how Albany leaders spend tax payer money. Yep, time to raise your taxes.

0

alleebrin 1 year, 10 months ago

What's wrong with sticking a match to this property? Would have been a heck of a lot cheaper! NO COMMON SENSE HERE!! Let politics get involved and nothing makes any sense! lol

0

Clif 1 year, 10 months ago

Same as always in Albany, mass confusion. Just like Fathers Day in Harlem!

1

willie 1 year, 10 months ago

Clif you should be ashamed of yourself for such a comment.

0

alleebrin 1 year, 10 months ago

Cliff, love it! ASHAMED? SO TRUE!

0

Shinedownfan 1 year, 10 months ago

He's made it before, it was true then as it is now...

0

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 10 months ago

Nobody should ever be ashamed for telling the truth. Clif, you tell the truth again and of course you get attacked. Anyone ever look at the Birth Announcements page of the Herald? Easliy TWO THIRDS (yes that's 66%) of the births are to unwed mothers. The ones that list the father (aka sperm donor).......well at least they think they know who the baby daddy is! Will he be around when the kid grows up? Will he contribute financially to the support of the mother and child? Doubt it.

0

whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

"It's not my job to think. It's my job to report". So, you are saying "this is what I was told and this is what I will tell you"? Now I am beginning to understand why some of the writings in the Herald have unanswered questions--none were asked. If you are just going to tell us what Jim Taylor, Dorothy Hubbard, Joel Wernick or any other public figure is saying without doing any "thinking" on your own, I am starting to "think" about why I need to continue to subscribe to the Herald. I would "think" that it would be proper to "think" about whether the taxpayer is picking up the tab for demo work Capitol City should pay for. I would "think" that thought should be given to how we get and pay for the remaining piece of property someone lives in. I would "think" about whether we have embarked on a new policy on who should pay for demo of blighted structures-- one bank paid to clean up its mess, one bank apparently will not. The real estate transactions have been consummated except for the return of the property to the city. I would "think" that now is the time to ask some of these questions that even the Commission should know answers to in doing their job. It is said that "good writers struggle so poor readers don't". I would "think" the same applies to reporters. If not, let's just send a parrot to talk with city leaders--they can also talk and don't have to think about what they say.

0

waltspecht 1 year, 10 months ago

I just renewed my subscription for a year. Frankly I like the fact that the Reporters don't put any "spin" in their reporting. As Friday used to say "Just the facts" allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. I don't need a Reporter thinking for me. I didn't take the comment to mean that J.D. doesn't think. I did take it to mean that his reporting is as honest and factual as the source allows it to be. In many cases, he will did deeper when he isn't to sure. However he won't interject his thoughts if they are unsubstantiated.

1

jglass 1 year, 10 months ago

Well, I will just be glad to see that mess down. It will be nice to see grass growing there. Just like the lot beside Krispy Kreme.......looks so much better!!!!!

0

PumpkinEater 1 year, 10 months ago

Of course JD thinks. He is stating the obvious: That as a news reporter, his job is to report facts, not his opinions. Although the Herald ownership and their funding do not support in-depth investigative reporting, JD does ask questions. Many times, the Herald toots its own horn like a company newsletter putting its self-important internal and promotional "news" on the front page, but JD's reporting is straight-at-you coverage. He can't be faulted for some limited reporting given the Herald's seeming policy to get a story out every day before deadline. There have been more than a few times that the Herald's supposed news reporting went into opinion and speculation and personal attack just to do that and create story, and they have been flat out wrong and misleading on the facts. THANK YOU, JD.

2

TrixibelleBento 1 year, 10 months ago

For those of you complaining about how the deal was struck: Where were you with your checkbooks out? The City tried to work with a private developer for years. When that didn't work out, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Anyone can tell you that the HH does NOT say good things about our community. As was said above, the lot next to Krispy Kreme looks great now. Let the same happen with HH's lot. Even if no one does anything about it, it will look so much better than it does now.

With asbestos in it, I doubt you can just torch it. The fumes would float over the entire city and then Ken Nugent would be here suing the city because its residents had mesothelioma.

I'm glad the demo is finally happening, and I'm glad a reputable company is doing it.

0

waltspecht 1 year, 10 months ago

There is something wrong in that the Bank could not be forced into demolishing this building, and paying for it. I tend to think this is a little bit of Blackmail the Banking industry uses against the municipalities. You come after us, and your Bond rating will suffer would be one way of describing the threat. Unless things have changed, if there is a Bank note on a seized vehicle, the agency can't keep and sell that vehicle. They can't even claim part of it's value from the Bank prior to returning it. Yet if you lend your vehicle to a friend and they partake in some activity that gets the vehicle seized, you are out of luck. It is a sweetheart deal for the Banks and Financial Institutions, and the Taxpayer suffers because of it.

0

whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

Certainly something to think about I would say. We don't know much about the project, or so it seems. But it is beyond just the HH itself--there are four houses behind the HH that clearly belonged to the bank that are also involved in the demo. These are more clear cut as to ownership and it looks like the taxpayer will absorb these costs also, for reasons unknown and unreported at the moment. Will we ever know?.

0

Kay523 1 year, 10 months ago

thank goodness the Heritage House is being torn down - the old Mayor could not get it done but the new Mayor did!

0

jglass 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't think I would give the credit to the new mayor!!!

0

Sign in to comment