Stockbridge begins Community Arts Center demolition

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Less than five years ago the city of Stockbridge purchased the old operations center of the former First State Bank. City officials had big plans for the Burke Street building, which cost just over $635,000.

Those plans have changed.

Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Ford wields a sledgehammer to officially begin the demolition. Special photo

Current city leaders essentially wrote off that purchase, demolishing the building April 24 with no definite idea yet for what will be built on the property. A needs assessment will be conducted in the near future as the City Council attempts to put together a master plan for the entire downtown area. Community input will be sought before that plan is completed.

The ceremonial first blow was delivered by sledgehammer courtesy of Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Ford, after which heavy equipment operators moved in to continue the job. Total clearance of the site should be finished by mid-June, according to a statement released by the city.

A study last year by an engineering firm concluded that more than $800,000 would be needed to complete the many repairs necessary for the building to remain viable, including $767,293 for “immediate needs,” city documents indicated. That report led to the city’s decision “to demolish, rather than rehabilitate, the existing structure.”

The building was first constructed in the 1990s and was purchased by the city in December of 2012. At that time none of the current members of the City Council were in office.

City officials at the time of purchase announced various plans for the building, mainly as a community center to be used by all ages, especially teens and senior citizens.

An agreement was reached in the summer of 2013 with Academy Theatre, which hosted a number of performances in a small theater housed in a portion of the building. The group’s three-year lease with the city ended last year.