Empty building holds promise, says Hobson City mayor
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
May 30, 2013 | 3573 views |  0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This 49-year-old industrial property in Hobson City could be the focus of redevelopment efforts if the city is able to acquire it. Photo by Stephen Gross
This 49-year-old industrial property in Hobson City could be the focus of redevelopment efforts if the city is able to acquire it. Photo by Stephen Gross
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HOBSON CITY – Mayor Alberta McCrory wants to resurrect a vacant commercial building in Hobson City that stands as a reminder of what was once a moneymaker for the town.

After decades of neglect the 49-year-old building will require much work and money to become useful again.

The 16,830 square-foot building at 430 Martin Luther King Blvd. was constructed in 1964 by Hobson City's Industrial Development Board. The board financed the build with a $250,000 bond, and over a period of 31 years five different textile companies operated there.

In return for enticing that first textile company, Genesco, to locate in Hobson City, the town agreed to sell the property to the company for $15,000 once Genesco paid off the bond in full. Genesco later sold the lease to Hillsbrook Co. for $109,000.

In 1985, the town’s Industrial Development Board sold the property to Hillsbrook for $17,600. The last apparel manufacturer left the building in 1996, and it’s been empty since then.

With just three businesses generating tax revenue for the town, Hobson City needs that building occupied, explained McCrory. Its roof is damaged and leaking, and the electrical wiring and air-conditioning units have all been stripped, but McCrory still holds out hope that repairs can be made.

“We do know that it will take a lot to repair it,” she said, but she couldn’t say for certain how much it would cost or where the money will come from.

Who owns it today?

Compass bank foreclosed on the property from a private individual and transferred ownership in August 2012 to Quantum Servicing Corporation, a Tampa-based mortgage servicing company, said a loan officer with Compass Bank.

Calhoun County Revenue Office records show Quantum Servicing as owner of the property.

Ross Vollmer, an asset manager at Quantum Servicing, said his company does not actually own real estate, but rather manages mortgages for clients. Citing company policy regarding confidentiality, Vollmer said he could not name the person, or group of investors, who own the property.

For a short period last year the building was placed into a receivership, a process in which a company takes over ownership of property during a loan default, with the Birmingham financial consulting firm Warren Averett. Hobson City made an offer to buy the property from Averett, but that offer was not accepted.

McCrory declined to say how much the town offered.

“There are some council members who think that maybe we talk too much about our vision and plans for the property, and maybe somebody will jump the gun on us,” McCrory said.

According to tax records the property’s appraised value is $229,420.

On April 4, Hobson City paid $2,484 in unpaid property taxes in hopes of buying the property from the state in a tax sale. Just 26 days later Quantum Servicing Corporation redeemed the property, paying all owed back taxes and reimbursing Hobson City.

McCrory said the town plans to continue trying to buy the property, and will be working toward finding ways to raise the money to repair it.

“We want the building back because it originally belonged to the city,” McCrory said. “…I’m just going to be optimistic about it.”

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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