Like a bad penny, the Heritage House has been popping up on City Council agendas since 2014.
At the Tuesday, Sept. 5 City Council meeting, a change order for $66,409 for demolition of the Heritage House is on the consent agenda. The consent agenda is a list of what are considered routine and housekeeping type items that do not need discussion, and the entire consent agenda is passed with one vote.
It is not hard to understand why the City Council would not want to discuss pouring even more money into the Heritage House, and repeated requests for an estimate of how much the city has spent on acquiring a portion of this building that was once a Royal Villa Hotel, and in its final incantation was a condominium complex, have gone unanswered. However, the original cost of the demolition was $1.1 million, and this change order raises that to $1.2 million.
When the demolition is completed, the city will own the footprint of the building, which shares the parking lot with the Meridian Center, in what was the public portion of the original hotel structure. The Meridian Center is in operation, which greatly complicated the demolition of the Heritage House.
This saga started in 2014 when the city decided to condemn the 177-unit Heritage House condominium building because of 830 building code violations. While the number of building code violations was impressive, the severity was not. The violations included broken smoke detectors, roach and bedbug infestation and animal feces on the floor. However, the Heritage House also had an unpaid $50,000 water bill, so in July 2014, the city cut off the water and condemned the building.
After the building was condemned, the city then had to purchase the 177 condominiums from the various owners. The vast majority of the owners settled for what the city offered, but a few owners took the city to court because in their opinion the city offer was far below the actual value of the condominiums.
The city reportedly acquired the final condominiums in November 2018, and in January 2019 the city announced it was ready to move forward with the demolition.
However, there were more complications because the Meridian Center is in a portion of the same building and the Meridian Center is in operation.
So here it is in the second half of 2023 and the City Council is set to approve what many hope will be the final change order for the demolition of the Heritage House.
It seems unlikely that the city will ever reveal how much the condemnation and demolition of the Heritage House has cost the taxpayers.