“A long slow goodbye”…that’s how Lois Cortell, Senior Development Manager for the city, described the deconstruction of the Webber Building, also known as the Old Montgomery Theatre downtown.The deconstruction process has been ongoing for about a year now. Cortell says it’s not to be confused with demolition.”One of the conditions of the sale was to maximize the salvage of the materials and to do that really involved a slow deconstruction” she explained.
Workman install a beam to help keep the rest of the Webber building from collapsing in downtown Montgomery, Ala. on Saturday June 28, 2014.(Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)
“As far as public buildings go, I’d rank the historical significance of the Webber building right up there with the Capitol and the old Klein building. Montgomery Theater Building played a major role in Montgomery’s history,” said Mary Ann Neeley, former executive director of the Landmark Foundation. “There’s all sorts of connections there to that building so to lose it and to have the wall collapse was certainly devastating to many of us at that time and to lose the building itself.”
City and North Baldwin Utilities officials worked together to salvage items which held historical and sentimental value to the community, the news release said, including interior doors and transom windows, as well as exterior wood doors and windows.
State Senator Linda Coleman.
“There are people who would develop or rehabilitate some of these old, historic houses if they can get ownership of some of these properties,” Coleman said.
Under the new rules, the state will waive its lien and transfer the state’s interest to the new local land banks.
Local governments may then offer the property to entities for redevelopment. The new law also expands notification provisions for property owners who are still allowed to redeem their properties if they pay the back taxes.
Coleman stressed that the law was not designed to take away an owner’s property, but to put long abandoned land back to productive use.
Coleman and city officials said the provision opens several possibilities for Birmingham, including residential redevelopment and economic development.
“Economic development people are already trying to assemble sites for people who want to come here. The problem is you’ve got a piece in the middle with no clear title to it. This whole current process caused blight. This was always the missing piece because the process was too cumbersome.”
A historic downtown Dothan building appears to be on the brink of destruction.
The Historic Preservation Commission gave the go-ahead to the Downtown Dothan Redevelopment Authority to demolish the building commonly known as the old Wadlington Hotel and Superbad building, located at 161, 171 and 173 N. Foster St.
It was condemned by the City of Dothan half a decade ago due to structural deficiencies.
Since then, several attempts have been made to salvage the building.
The DDRA was on the verge of approving the building’s demolition in 2010 when Eagle Investments swooped in and presented a plan to save it.
Purchasing the building for $1, Eagle didn’t move forward with its plans and eventually decided to give the building back.
Two weeks ago, Eagle exercised the reconveyance clause in its initial contract, giving ownership back to the DDRA.
“It wasn’t a project they thought they could do, so they thought it best to give the building back to us and let us decide what to do with the property,” said Jansen Tidmore, executive director of the DDRA.
According to Tidmore, recent alarming structural changes caused the DDRA to take quick action after recovering the property.
“There’s some bowing in the front walls,” he said. “Some of the walls you can view from the street have changed as far as being able to see a bubble, and that’s alarming because it’s a trend that was spotted in the (Cash Drug) building that collapsed last year, a sure sign this has become unstable. It’s not a matter of if it happens tomorrow or two years from now, but something at some point could be the snapping point for that building, and that’s just too much of a risk for any of us to shoulder.”
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