The Albany City Commission voted Tuesday to hire Oxford Construction Co. to demolish the dilapidated site of the former Heritage House Hotel in downtown Albany.
ALBANY — The final arrangement between Albany city leaders and officials with Oxford Construction Co. show that the city has agreed to pay $1.1 million to have the former Heritage House hotel razed and transferred into its possession.
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.
Documents obtained by The Herald Wednesday show that Oxford has agreed to essentially buy the property, remove any asbestos present and demolish the former hotel and three adjacent houses formerly owned by the current Heritage House owner. Once demolition is completed, Oxford will transfer ownership to the city of Albany.
The complete price tag for purchase and demolition is $1.1 million, the agreement states. Oxford also has until June 6 to begin demolition, according to the paperwork.
The road to Tuesday’s vote was a long one with twists and turns.
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, City Manager James 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 Tuesday’s 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.