Downtown eyesore demolished, making way for new opportunities
Time flies, and it may not seem like it, but nearly six years have passed since the old poolroom property on South Wayne Street first began resembling a war-torn country.
Thankfully, at least in this case, nothing lasts forever. The condemned structure at 115 South Wayne recently was demolished and pancaked, clearing the way for several new developments. Included will be an open courtyard and garden space named in honor of Faye Little, a Milledgeville woman who passed away a few days before Christmas.
"Faye was a wonderful lady, and she's already very missed," said David Sinclair, one of the property's new owners. "She was one of the first people I met when I moved here."
The plan is to break the property into three parcels, with the courtyard/garden comprising the middle parcel. Sinclair recently told Jessica Cha with WMAZ/Channel 13 that the plan for one of the other parcels is "a microbrewery and also a wine shop." Sinclair added that "demolition will cost over $100,000 and reconstruction will be around $2 million," according to the Channel 13 story...
Open plazas in between downtown buildings have become increasingly common in the last few decades, all part of the greater revitalization of American downtowns. Downtown Greensboro has one, and Jackson Street Park in Dublin has become a huge hit. The South Wayne Street plaza won't occupy nearly as much space as its counterpart in downtown Dublin, but the one here should still be a solid addition for downtown Milledgeville...
The building's demolition was very small potatoes for Sinclair. He made his career in demolition, receiving a laundry list of industry awards and making a very nice living in the field. He relocated from Scotland to Lake Sinclair roughly 10 years ago.
It was Memorial Day 2018 when heavy rain caused the roof of the building to cave in and collapse. A very loud boom could be heard for several blocks, although downtown was basically empty on account of the holiday. The property quickly became both an eye sore and logistical problem, as the sidewalk was closed and parking places blocked off.
So, why did the problem take so long to remedy? Well, it's sort of complicated. Much of it is legalese and has to do with litigation and mitigation and codes and statutes. Also, the building's previous owner, an older gentleman named Larry Simmons from Conyers, was under the impression that the property was worth at least $500,000. At that price, there were never any takers. City Hall also offered to work with Simmons on a "revolving loan fund" through the Department of Community Affairs, but "the building's owner never filled out the application," according to City Councilman Walter Reynolds, whose district includes the heart of downtown.
Reynolds added that "we did not want to just take the property from the owner and go through the eminent domain process," adding that "we worked for many years in good faith with the owner and tried every possible avenue other than eminent domain."
Also, in recent years, there was other pending litigation. The property owner first sued a roofing company, claiming that the roofer previously performed haphazard work on the roof, which is why it collapsed. That lawsuit was thrown out, though, and the property owner then claimed that the city's stormwater system backed up and caused the roof to collapse. That didn't work either. Finally, Sinclair and the other Baldwin Investment Group members purchased the property last year.