Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa City Council Declares Focus Building Surplus

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa City Council Declares Focus Building Surplus

Article excerpt

A unanimous vote by the Tuscaloosa City Council has readied the downtown building now used by Focus on Senior Citizens for sale.

The council has declared the building at 1920 Sixth St. as surplus property, which is legally required before a municipality can sell real property.

Next week, the council will vote on whether to execute the sale of the 13,000-square-foot building to University Stations LLC for the appraised value of $1.1 million.

Proceeds from the sale are going toward the renovation of portions of the Leroy McAbee Sr. Activity Center on Loop Road for use as the new Focus on Senior Citizens facility.

City officials said plans for the renovation are prepared and awaiting only the funding in order to proceed.

Should the sale be finalized next week, Focus will have six weeks to vacate the facility.

The council's vote came minutes after Kelly Fitts, president of the Original City Association, urged the council to protect the historic homes that make up the 14 downtown historic neighborhoods.

The Original City Association, or OCA, is an advocacy group for the residential historic districts near the University of Alabama campus, and members say they are concerned that a lack of defined rules will allow repeated infringements upon their way of life.

An increase in the college student population coupled with a heightened nightlife in downtown Tuscaloosa has led to multiple incidents of vandalism and unwelcome intrusions on the residents within these areas.

Fitts asked the council for help in curbing these situations.

"I understand the need for the sale of this building," Fitts said, "but you could not reasonably think that we would not speak up for the protection of our districts.

"We look to the city to help us feel comfortable in our homes again."

For more than two years, residents and advocates of downtown historic districts have lobbied against the building's sale to University Stations LLC, the only company to show interest in the building in three rounds of bidding.

University Stations LLC is a local company whose investors include Charles Spurlin, owner of The Shirt Shop on Greensboro Avenue, and the owners of Innisfree Irish Pub, which is next to the Focus building. …

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