Originally created 05/17/03

Hotel cleanup goes slowly



Although cleanup work appeared to begin Friday morning at the site of a collapsed downtown building that once served as a hotel, work crews were only moving rubble off a Georgia Power easement, according to the property's owner, Tim Shelnut.

Debris removal isn't likely to begin until later this month, and could take as long as six weeks to complete.

"It's an eyesore at this point," Mr. Shelnut said Friday afternoon.

The old Augusta Hotel, which has been boarded up for many years, collapsed last Saturday night as a result of water damage from a leaking roof, authorities said.

On Friday, the city received a $13,000 bill for the initial demolition work completed by Thompson Wrecking Co. That bill will be passed on to Mr. Shelnut, said Public Works Director Teresa Smith.

The back of the old hotel, which faces Sixth Street, is intact but is beginning to bulge from the back, which means the entire structure will have to be demolished and cleared away before the property's rehabilitation can begin, Mr. Shelnut said.

He said his early plans are to turn the back of the property into a parking lot and turn the front into a small park area, possibly for special-needs children.

He said he is gathering bids on the demolition and clearing work and expects to have them by the middle of next week.

"Obviously, the historic part of the building is gone, so - for me - it's a total loss," Mr. Shelnut said. "I would at least like to make something positive there.

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.