Owner Fined for Dilapidated Downtown Laurens Building - WSPA.com

Owner Fined for Dilapidated Downtown Laurens Building

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Laurens city leaders are taking new steps to tear down a dilapidated building that’s been wasting away on a busy downtown Laurens intersection for years. Laurens city leaders are taking new steps to tear down a dilapidated building that’s been wasting away on a busy downtown Laurens intersection for years.
LAURENS, S.C. -

Laurens city leaders are taking new steps to tear down a dilapidated building that’s been wasting away on a busy downtown Laurens intersection for years.

City Administrator Gary Coleman said he hopes to finally cut through all the red tape and have it torn down this spring.

He hopes fining the building’s owner will convince him to hand the property over to the city.

Shattered glass and caution tape are a familiar sight at the intersection of Highway 76 and 221 in Laurens. The blue sky is clearly visible through the former barbershop’s caved-in roof. The building is twisting and the brick is crumbling.

“This is the face of our town,” said Sara Lenahan, who owns the building across the street from the old barbershop.

Lenahan has a lot of words for the dilapidated building.

“A travesty, an embarrassment," said Lenahan.

None of those words are nice.

“[If] you have trashy buildings, who wants to come to this town?" said Lenahan.

Many of her storefronts sit empty. She said the eyesore across the street makes it hard to rent them out.

SCDOT barricaded off the dilapidated building back in May. Laurens Buildings and Zoning deemed the building structurally unsafe and a danger to pedestrians.

As Executive Director of Main Street Laurens, Jonathan Irick helps promote the city's downtown. He said the barricades themselves put pedestrians in danger.

“It certainly is a safety concern though, because we do have some businesses in that area and people are walking to it on the sidewalks, and so they have to get out into the road or across the street to get to those businesses," said Irick.

Cities can tear down vacant, unsafe buildings as long as they attempt to notify the owner.

The hang up here is Laurens leadership wants the old barbershop’s owner to deed the property over to the city. Coleman said if the city is going to spend $90,000 of taxpayer money to dispose of the asbestos and tear it down, he wants the city to own the property when it's all over.

On Sunday, the city fined the building’s owner $500, plus court costs, for having a dilapidated property. The city can continue to fine him every month. Coleman said he hopes that'll convince the owner to hand over the building.

Lenahan said the sooner the better -- before somebody gets hurt.

“You never know if something's going to fall down on you. At one time, there was a storm and glass was blowing out across the street. So yeah, it's dangerous," said Lenahan.

If you've got an eyesore in your neighborhood, your best bet to get it torn down is to contact your city or county Buildings and Codes department. They can contact the building’s owner, try to get them to tear it down, or -- more rarely – the city or county will tear it down themselves.

A bill signed into law last year offers tax incentives to a company that revitalizes an abandoned building. It only applies to commercial properties, not homes.

There's another bill pending in the state legislature called the Dilapidated Buildings Act. One of the sponsors is from the Upstate, State Sen. Larry Martin from Pickens. The bill would strengthen city and county government's abilities to take over eyesores in your neighborhoods and either rehab or demolish them. You can read the bill here.

Related:
Homeowners Want Empty Eyesores Gone
Anderson Leaders Ask for State's Help with Abandoned Homes

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