Tax dollars pay for building that's been empty for a decade

6:14 PM, May 16, 2012   |    comments
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A state owned building in Lawrenceville sits empty and unused as it has for the past ten years.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - For nearly ten years now, your tax dollars have paid for a state owned building that sits empty and unused despite repeated complaints from at least one neighbor.

"The building is just sitting there," said Ed Mach. "No for sale sign. Nothing."

The building on Atkinson Road in Lawrenceville was once a career center for the Georgia Department of Labor. The center closed in 2002 when the state opened a newer, larger facility on Beaver Ruin Road.

Ten years later the building sits with boarded up windows. Grass grows through cracks in the empty parking lot.

"Nobody sees the waste in the state," said Mach. "I've complained to the Labor Department and even the Governor's office over the years. Nothing has been done."

Property records show it the building is still owned by the state of Georgia. It is currently valued at $495,000. According to the State Property Commission, the property's appraised value was $680,000 in 2007.

Michael Thurmond, who was Labor Commissioner when the career center closed, says initially there were developers interested in buying the property.

"Then it's a process," said Thurmond. "You have to take bids and it just didn't get done, and then we had the stock market crash. For the last three years when I was there, there was little interest."

According to the Labor Department, a bid to purchase the property in 2007 offered $300,000. At the time that was less than half of the assessed value. The State Property Commission rejected the offer.

"It's a waste no one has purchased it," said Thurmond. "Absent a buyer I'm not sure what you can do."

A spokesperson for the Labor Department says the building is still listed for sale as surplus property. The State Property Commission is waiting for interest from "a willing and able buyer."

Three other former Labor Department career centers are currently listed as surplus property. They are in the cities of Douglas, Gainesville, and Lake City.

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