30 APR 05: STANDING ON THE CORNER
A strange bit of history is just across the Dillingham Street Bridge in Phenix City - an old two-story brick building at Dillingham and Broad. It's a former bank, currently sitting on the corner all alone and empty. If you didn't better, you might think the Historic Columbus Foundation uses it as a beachhead.
The building at the northeast corner of Dillingham and Broad is next door to the modern-looking Mead WestVaco office. Downtown Columbus has something similar at 14th and Broadway, where the TSYS headquarters was built to protect an old home. Columbus calls it history - but Phenix City calls it an eyesore blocking progress.
The latest "Phenix Citizen-News" has an update on the old Citizens Bank building at Dillingham and Broad. The city wants it removed, while the owners are appealing in court to keep it there. After all, the owners might argue, the Mead WestVaco bricks will look just as rundown in about 100 years.
I didn't realize who owned the old building on the corner until I read the newspaper article. One of the owners is former Russell County Commissioner Tillman Pugh. There were all sorts of signs on U.S. 80 endorsing his reelection last fall - but come to think of it, I didn't see any on Broad Street.
Phenix City officials reportedly gave Tillman Pugh and his partner a deadline months ago to tear down the former Citizens Bank - but still it stands, pending appeals in court. Maybe Pugh is trying to negotiate a visit from the "Trading Spaces" crew.
A big sign facing Dillingham Street says the Citizens Bank building is for sale. And whose name should be listed as the agent but former Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter! And you wondered why the building didn't come down over the last three years....
(I'd say Sonny Coulter is helping in the redevelopment of downtown Phenix City. But this building is a few blocks south of downtown -- and the phone number on the realty sign has the Columbus 706 area code.)
While haggling continues over whether the Citizens Bank building can be saved, can't something be done with it in the meantime? For instance:
+ It used to be a game room - so make older people play dominoes there, when they get too rowdy at the Central Activities Center.
+ It used to be a pet shop - so cover the floor with sand, and make it an emergency rest stop.
+ It has a prime location near downtown, the Dillingham Street Bridge and U.S. 431- so c'mon, Don Siegelman, rent the building and make your campaign for Governor official.
+ And if all else fails, can't the House of Renovation use a little extra floor space for homeless people with inflatable mats?
We'll keep you posted on this building battle - and now let's check other notes from the weekend:
+ Attorneys on all sides in the Kenneth Walker lawsuits held a pre-trial conference in federal court. Judge Clay Land says the suit may go to trial early next year - giving civil rights groups time to announce and call off three more boycotts.
+ Results from an area-wide "community assessment" survey found race relations only the fourth biggest concern in metro Columbus. Crime issues were third, while poverty was first. Hmmm -- if police officers don't get a big raise soon, they'll be able to relate to the low-income criminals better.
+ Hidden cameras in the TV news "Honesty Test" caught a man in Auburn picking up a credit card on the ground, swiping it at a gas pump twice -- then denying he did it. Yet his face was blurred -- so I'm assuming he's an attorney, threatening a big lawsuit.
+ Businesses in the 1000 block of Broadway held an "Oysterfest" to support the Georgia coastal reef. Where would couples start with this? The men want to visit the restaurants serving oysters - while the women prefer the jewelry stores selling pearls.
+ Which competing local blog called WRCG "TalkLine" co-host Robbie Watson an "audio blogger with an audio comment section on quaint technology?" Some of us are old enough to remember when this was called radio....
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