New discoveries in Heritage House trial

The Heritage House hotel sits empty. / From file


The trial to appeal the former ruling to demolish the old Heritage House Hotel went to superior court Monday.

But the trial ran into a few problems even before a jury got to their seats.

Picture after picture of debris, hanging metal wires, and old furniture. City Attorney Nathan Davis was making his case for tearing down the building at 703 West Oglethorpe boulevard, or the old Heritage House Hotel.

"We think the evidence in this case will show that building is just a shell of what it used to be. That it's not habitable, it's unclean, it's unsanitary, it's a danger to public health, safety and welfare," says Davis.

The owners, Greenbriar Holdings and Investments LLC were unable to defend themselves. In earlier proceedings, the attorney chosen to represent them, North Carolina attorney Todd Jones, was not licensed to practice law in Georgia. Greenbriar sent along an authorization making Jones a temporary manager, allowing him to take part in proceedings, but the document was not notarized.

Additionally, Greenbriar LLC, a North Carolina-based corporation, is not licensed to conduct business in Georgia.

Before leaving court Monday morning, Jones wanted to make it clear, efforts had been made over the past 10 years to refurbish the structure.

"There was a movement afoot to use that as a dorm and work with Albany State. And that plan fell through for whatever reason. They then began to work with ADICA, with the state of Georgia and federal grants to build some kind of senior housing, even a veterans housing was discussed," says Jones.

Davis went on to convince the jury it would cost more to rehabilitate Heritage House--about $10-16 million--than it would to just tear the building down--just a million and a half.

And while Jones says it's unfortunate that it's become a haven of drugs...

"Really and truly, the owners of Greenbriar have always been committed to turn that property into something that can benefit everybody."

Judge Stephen Goss has ordered that Greenbriar demolish it within 30 days.