Preservation Committee Appeal Project at Old Albany Middle School

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – Phoebe hopes to begin construction of their living and learning community with Albany Technical College soon.

That timeline may change now that the Albany Dougherty County Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) said it was sending a notice of appeal to superior court.

Moments before the end of the Albany City Commission meeting on Tuesday, commissioners received an email stating that the HPC was working to appeal the City Commission’s vote to overturn the Preservation Commission’s vote to decline. the project.

The only way for the City Board to overturn the HPC’s decision was to find that the HPC had abused its discretion in making a decision. This is the motion that City Commissioner Bob Langstaff made. The Cancellation vote was unanimous.

HPC President Bryan Harden said he followed historic guidelines when he decided to decline the original project proposal. (WALB)

HPC President Bryan Harden said he followed historic guidelines when making the decision.

“I personally love the image of the building, but my duty as CHP Commissioner is to read and review the guidelines. That’s what we did,” Harden said.

City Commissioner Chad Warbington said each person may interpret the guidelines differently, and what Phoebe and Albany Tech came up with retains the building’s historic value.

“I think it will be a building that honors our past and honors the school that was there. People can still walk by and reflect and have those elements that have been there for almost 100 years,” Warbington said.

City Commissioner Chad Warbington says Phoebe and Albany Tech have offered to keep the...
City Commissioner Chad Warbington said Phoebe and Albany Tech have offered to retain the building’s historic value.(WALB)

Some elements mimic the original entrance, restore windows and reuse bricks salvaged during construction of the $40 million project.

Phoebe Putney Health System CEO and President Scott Steiner said restoring the building as is does not provide enough space and would cost nearly $70 million.

“We believe this will be an incredible asset to the entire community. Five hundred students will learn on hallowed grounds that have taught high school and college students for 75 years,” Steiner said.

Harden said imitation is not preservation and that approving demolition certificates would hurt Albany’s historic district.

“You have a Bo Arts style school from 1925. There are only two left in Albany. We started with six. I think there’s no doubt it will diminish our historic district,” Harden said.

Warbington said depending on the legal action, they hope to distribute Opportunity Certificates by Thursday. These certificates would give Pheobe the green light to start construction.

Harden said the HPC expects no buildings to be demolished until the appeals process has been exhausted.

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