The city of Anniston, which owns the building, is advertising for bids on its purchase nearly eight years after the last tenant moved out. Gadsden State Community College left the building in November 2004 for McClellan and since then the building has sat unused while the city decided what to do with it.
The city was motivated into action because of some recent interest in purchasing the building, said City Manager Don Hoyt.
“The council declared that surplus, I don’t know, two years ago,” Hoyt said. “We had a purchase option on it by a company that wanted to build some apartment complexes. Then that deal never did get approved.”
Although that deal fell through, the property can still be sold due to the declaration and in the past year, two organizations have shown interest in buying it — the Sharp-Dean School on Noble Street and Pastor Charles Gregory whose church Victory Headquarters Christian Center is outgrowing its current location on Wilmer Avenue. Gregory visited the Anniston City Council meeting on February 28 to ask if the members might be interested in selling the property, but the city has to advertise the property for bid before it can accept an offer, Hoyt said.
Advertising for bids may drum up even more interest in the property, Hoyt said.
In addition, the school, which is still in good structural condition, has sprung some leaks that may eventually damage the building, Hoyt said.
“Our experience with the land company building is a pretty clear indication of what happens if you let it go too long,” Hoyt said, referring to a historic building the city owned but wound up demolishing earlier this year. “At some point, you’ve got to do something. You can’t just let it sit there and rot.”
The Noble Street School, which was completed in 1926, also may have some historic value to the city. David Schneider, executive director of the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, applied for the school to be included in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. According to the application, it was one of five Anniston schools ordered closed in a desegregation order handed down by the U. S. District Court. It closed in 1973.
The building at 22nd and Noble is zoned for neighborhood shopping center. Any proposal involving the building, however, would have to go through the city’s planning commission — and whether the building is on the register or not, said City Planner Toby Bennington, the commission would consult the Anniston Historical Preservation Commission.
“That’s part of that partnership that the planning commission and the preservation commission is establishing,” Bennington said. “One of the keys in revitalizing neighborhoods is it’s not just about the new; but it’s about recovering the older.”
The building could see commercial or residential use or possibly a combination of both, Bennington said. Any use would have to enhance the neighborhood, not detract from it, he added.
Commercial and residential properties are already found in the neighborhood and the site, easily reached from Quintard Avenue, sees plenty of Noble Street traffic. It also is on the public transit route — all factors which could make it a desirable location for a commercial-residential use, Bennington said.
“This would be a good opportunity for someone to utilize a building that is very structurally sound and very well designed to develop something appropriate to the neighborhood,” Bennington said.
Advertising for bids doesn’t mean the city will sell the building.
“If they don’t want to sell it, they’ll just have to turn down (the) bids and we’ll have to sit on it a little longer,” Hoyt said.
Bids on the property are being accepted until June 14 at 10 a.m. Bid forms are available from the city clerk’s office at City Hall. Contact the office at 256-231-7710 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.