Calhoun City Administrator Eddie Peterson (left) and City Building Inspector Don McGinnis survey the vacant Oglethorpe Inn from a vantage point beside the empty pool. The walls of the dilapidated building may finally be coming down. (File Photo: Tricia Dillard/Calhoun Times)
One of the biggest “eye sores” in Calhoun, Oglethorpe Inn, is on the verge of being sold and torn down.
Calhoun City Attorney George Govignon announced at the city council meeting on Monday, May 13 that a possible deal between Hamilton State Bank, current owner of the property, and an unnamed buyer should be closed by the end of May.
Oglethorpe Inn closed in February of 2011 and the bank became tied up in a legal dispute with Tich Properties LLC., William “Chip” Rogers IV and Tom Graves Jr. The dispute was over the $2,254,989 debt owed to the bank, according to court record; however, no public records exist on the settlement because it was settled outside of court.
Since that time the building has become dilapidated and created an “eye sore” for the Red Bud exit and the City of Calhoun.
“It is a derelict skeletal husk of a building and its been stripped by everybody,” Govignon said. “You can talk to law enforcement; an empty derelict building like that is a magnet to problems, whether is be transient individuals living there, teenagers going in to destroy stuff or individuals going in there to pull scrap metal out.”
According to Govignon, the road to demolition has not been an easy one for any of the parties involved.
“Whenever you are tearing down something like this you can’t just rip it up and throw it in the dumpster,” Govignon said. “You have to dispose of everything properly and there are going to be federal, state and local regulations you have to follow.”
The first major problem that halted demolition was an unexpected crawlspace.
Hamilton State Bank put bids out for demolition of the building, however, the discovery of a crawlspace that was not included in initial demolition plans put the bidding process back at square one.
Next, conflicting asbestos reports between Hamilton State Bank and the buyer halted the finalization process.
After the two parties sorted out the differences between the tests they began to work on negotiating on common ground for the cost of the building, Govignon said.
Knocking on wood he said, “the purchaser’s intent, to his knowledge, is to start demolition immediately after closing.”
The City of Calhoun does not own the building, and the only thing they could do is have the property filed as a nuisance. If the city took that approach the initial cost of demolition would fall on taxpayers, and then the city would seek reimbursement from the owner.
Govignon said if nothing is done about the building then the city will take action, but the city has been holding off in the hopes that demolition can be done without the city’s involvement.
Ashley O’Donnell, Chief Appraiser for the Gordon County Tax Assessors, said it is hard to say if Oglethorpe has caused any depreciation in property value in the area, because there haven’t been any recent sales in the area, but “it is certainly an eye sore,” he said.
“I’m just ready for it to come down, and I think the community is ready for it to be erased from memory,” said Govignon.
Hamilton State Bank could not be reached for comment.