Originally created 05/04/02

Not so fast

The building that houses the district attorney's old offices, at 551 Greene St., is in disrepair but shouldn't summarily be torn down for a parking lot.

The 129-year-old building has been the district attorney's shabby headquarters for the past 10 years, and its leaks, odors and hazards have led District Attorney Danny Craig to say that the place is uninhabitable.

Maybe so, maybe not. But it's certain the municipality does not need another parking lot in that location. It has a huge municipal parking deck that's never used and a massive sea of asphalt at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center that is also underutilized during the day and most nights.

Mayor Bob Young's suggestion "to tear it down and make it parking" is premature. Instead, the city should sell the building back to the private sector at a bargain-basement price, with the stipulation that the buyer must restore it to its former grandeur.

After all, the old DeLaigle home was built just after the Civil War and sits in the middle of the Greene Street historic district - what's left of it, that is. Too many historic buildings have been demolished in pursuit of "progress," which is how we are blessed with any number of ugly replacement structures.

Sure, the floors are old and uneven from water damage. The place isn't adequately ventilated and it surely needs more than a cosmetic face lift. Give the private sector a chance to rehabilitate the building and put it back on the property tax rolls.

Use some imagination and don't just resort to a wrecking ball because the place is old. At least it's not an eyesore, which is more than can be said about the Marble Palace that sits across from it.


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