07/13/11 — City: Hotel demolition will be costly

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City: Hotel demolition will be costly

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 13, 2011 1:46 PM

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The city is looking for funds to finish the demolition of the former Gold Inn and Suites building on U.S. 70.

Bringing down the Gold Inn and Suites building on U.S. 70 West near the U.S. 117 junction will be more difficult -- and costly -- than originally thought, Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra said during a recent City Council meeting.

Because of asbestos concerns, the lowest estimates for taking down the dilapidated building, which the city wishes to foreclose on, were more than twice Cianfarra's estimated $80,000 to $90,000, with Eastern Environmental submitting the lowest bid for the project at $199,995.

The next lowest bid was $299,499 with other bids reaching totals as high as $532,800.

The owners of the motel have previously filed for bankruptcy and have said they cannot afford to finish demolishing the structure, which has become even more dilapidated thanks to metal thieves and vagrants. City officials are concerned that the "eyesore" isn't a welcome sight for those entering the city from the west.

The council aims to demolish the building, which has been condemned, and issue a lien on the property. If the owner doesn't pay the city for its costs to demolish and remove the building, the city will seek to foreclose on the owner's property and, after acquiring it, will likely sell it. In 2009, the property sold for $710,000.

The council's dissatisfaction with the bid results led Cianfarra to present other options, which included putting out a new bid, this time only for the demolition of the main building, which is most visible from the road. Cianfarra also suggested using Community Block Grant funds to pay for the demolition, although that application process would require more time.

Community Development administrator Valiera Powell-Best said Friday she was told to prepare the action plan to request full funding from the Community Block Grant funds to pay for the demolition.

The grant comes from federal funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which "provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs," according to the grant's website.

"Because the amount is more than 25 percent of the allocation, we will have to do an amendment of the action plan," Mrs. Best said. "That's what I was told to proceed with."

There must be a 30-day public review, she says, which begins when the change is advertised in a local newspaper.

"It has to be advertised and have a public hearing prior to submission," she said.

She said Planning Director Randy Guthrie has told her the public hearing should be held during one of the City Council meetings in August. The council will meet both Aug. 1 and Aug. 15.