Historic building on Broadway moves closer to rehab

congress-buildingThe City Plan Commission on Tuesday voted to add the historic Congress Building on Broadway to a tax abatement redevelopment area.

Developer Del Hedgepath, owner of the blighted building at 3535 Broadway, said he hopes to convert it to 45 residential lots, five retail bays and 120 parking spaces.

The commission vote was unanimous but followed criticism of how Hedgepath and other developers allow property to become blighted.

Hedgepath said he has owned the 105,000 square-feet building for 12 years and it has gone from 80 percent occupied at the start to 20 percent now.

Pictures showed garbage piled inside, holes in the walls and other deterioration.

Commissioner Tim Van Zandt said, “It’s blighted but I can just tell you a lot of this was brought on by current ownership.”

He added that some developers neglect property and blight it, get tax abatement and then sell the more valuable property at a profit.

Commissioner Rev. Stan Archie said it feels uncomfortable to grant blight designation and tax breaks for a neglected building, but it does serve a public good.

Hedgepath said that holes made years ago to remove asbestos in walls and ceilings led to damage by illegal scrappers who savaged the plumbing and heating systems.

Also, a neighboring property owner tore down a building north of his building which exposed its unattractive north side.

“I’m not sitting back purposely letting the building become blighted,” he said.

Archie said, “The frustration you hear is not all because of this one project – we’ve seen a pattern.”

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