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      Albany eyesore debate ends, Heritage House falls

      Wes Smith talks about the demolition of the Heritage House.

      Early demolition stages have begun for a blighted Albany structure that's been a topic of debate for years.

      The Heritage House is finally coming down.

      When word came down Tuesday that the previous owner of the dilapidated Heritage House hadn't come to buy back his property, Oxford Construction contractors set into action by clearing out small homes on the land, then moving to the main structure.

      The main building itself, they've initiated the asbestos removal which has to be done before demo and then they'll move immediately into the demolition process, says Wes Smith, the Albany Assistant City Manager.

      During the demolition process, Oxford will retain ownership of the property. More than 75 percent of the materials within the building will be recycled, while the rest will be discarded.

      Officials say they're also looking out for the safety of the public as they go through the clean-up phase.

      They put the plastic up to contain the air and contaminates inside the building. They create what's called negative pressure. So in essence, no air is pushing out of the facility, says Wes Smith.

      This move lowers the risk that residents will be infected by contaminated air. Officials estimate that all demolition will be done by the end of September.

      Contractors say once the building comes down, what's left will be a lush plot of land that the city can make a profit off from.

      We're hoping to pass that property on to a developer, someone who can come in and put some retail space there, something to generate some tax there and create some jobs, says Chris Pike, Ward 3 Commissioner for Albany.

      The city estimates they'll spend $1.1 million acquiring the land from Oxford in October. In return they hope to make at least $300,000 from a sale.

      We'd like to recoup as much as we can. We have certainly had interest in it already. I would not be able to disclose that to you, says Wes Smith.

      He says selling the property would bring in tax revenue to the city of Albany, Dougherty County and the Dougherty County School Board.