WHAT: The boarded-up hulk of a former J.C. Penney store.
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE: Bonnie Ruben bought the structure in 1988, but it remains unused. The ground floor is boarded up, but debris is strewn in doorways and a few upper floor windows are missing.
ACTION TAKEN: Augusta Code Enforcement Manager Pam Costabile said the building is in violation of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2003 edition – which is enforced by the city – due to missing windows, loose brick and debris, but the office has been working with Ruben and her attorney on getting the issues addressed.
“You can’t imagine how much energy it takes to keep that clean,” Ruben said of the doorways, citing the prevalence of homeless people in the area. “The internet and anonymous letters are a great way to attack someone,” she added.
Ruben said she’s envisioned for years converting the structure into a mixed-use residential-retail complex with loft apartments and a rooftop bar but due to slow redevelopment and other factors, “downtown is not ready for that yet.”