Originally created 01/27/99

City must remove motel's asbestos

The Downtown Motel on North Augusta's main street is destined for the wrecking ball.

But first, North Augusta City Council must hire a contractor to remove asbestos from the aging structure at a cost of $20,000.

"We retained the services of Removal and Abatement Technologies to survey the property for asbestos," City Administrator Charles Martin told the council Tuesday night. "And it was determined that asbestos was present in the building."

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control require that easily crumbled asbestos be removed before demolition. Asbestos floor tiles and roofing materials may be removed during demolition, Mr. Martin said.

Demolition and disposal costs range from $14,000 if the city does the job to $21,500 if the job is contracted out. Total cost could go as high as $41,500.

"The owner (Navin Rajah) has agreed to a rebate of up to $10,000 to help cover the cost of asbestos removal," City Attorney Kelly Zier said.

That would lower the purchase price to $76,000 but the total cost to the city could go as high as $117,500 including asbestos removal, demolition and disposal.

Closing on the purchase is set for Friday, Mr. Zier said.

The demolition would rid the city of a structure long considered a blemish on the face of downtown North Augusta. Construction of a new streetscape is set to begin in a few weeks.

Police padlocked the motel in June and charged the owner with crimes including distribution of crack cocaine and fraudulent acquisition of food stamps. City officials have said the charges against Mr. Rajah were unrelated to their decision to purchase the motel.

The motel is in the city's redevelopment district.

"It is located at a main entrance of the city in an area that needs upgrading," Mayor Lark Jones said.

Plans for revitalizing the downtown, which will eventually include the 0.61-acre motel site, were placed on display at the North Augusta Community Center on Monday for public comment.

In a report to the council, streetscape designer Tom Robertson said most of the comments were positive except for some concern over possible loss of 19 parking spaces in the redevelopment area.

"That is an unacceptable number," Mr. Jones said and requested that revisions be made to reduce the number of losses and to provide access to other parking areas.

Pat Willis can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.


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