Hotel Talisi owner Wiley Troupe has informed the Tallassee City Council he will appeal its decision to condemn the building at a public hearing May 14 just before the regularly scheduled council meeting at 5 p.m.
Municipal building inspector Andy Coker told the council at its meeting Tuesday about the appeal hearing. City officials had already given Troupe 45 days’ notice to make needed structural repairs and Troupe was also given an immediate notice in March to fix metal flashing hanging from the roof.
“There is flashing hanging off the front and the sides,” Coker said. “That is an immediate danger if that flashing comes down.”
Instead of making the repairs, Troupe asked city officials for a 60-day extension but Mayor Johnny Hammock said the city would not wait that long to ensure safety downtown.
Residents and business owners in the area say debris, such as bricks, have begun to fall from the building which is located adjacent to a well-frequented park in the area.
Hammock said a brick that falls from the roof of a third-floor building can travel three times the distance it falls from.
“If the wall is 40 feet tall, a projectile can go 120 feet,” he said.
Hammock is concerned about patrons who visit businesses downtown, including a dance studio where local children attend dance classes.
“I have been out there before and seen all the children across the street dancing and they come over to the park sometimes,” Hammock said. “There are people at Tiger Paw down there, people shopping at Sistrunk and at the antique place.”
Councilmember Darryl Wilson, who represents the district where the Hotel Talisi is located, said at a March council meeting the hotel is disintegrating faster than expected.
“It’s getting worse,” he said. “There was only one window that had fallen in. Within a week and a half, another one has fallen in.”
Most of the city council agreed citizen safety should take priority.
“Historic or not,” councilmember Jeremy Taunton said, “it needs to be fixed or it needs to be torn down. There has been ample opportunity to do it. They had 72 hours to fix the flashing issue and they didn’t do it. It’s obvious they don’t care. It is an unsafe structure and we need to do our due diligence and go ahead and condemn it. It shouldn’t matter if it’s historic.”
But councilmember David Stough said the historic value of the hotel makes it worth saving.
“This is a building that people have traveled from Auburn, Montgomery, all parts of this state and out of state to visit,” he said. “I would hate to see this council go ahead and declare that building a public nuisance and maybe have it torn down.”
The unique history of the Hotel Talisi, paired with a widely popular buffet, once drew a tremendous number of people to the area but that changed in October 2009 when fire engulfed the interior. Troupe tried to bring the facility up to code afterward but a required second elevator for banquet hall/event space on the third floor drove up the cost.
Troupe abandoned his plans to reopen the hotel and listed the property for $400,000. In the meantime, city officials said the building has become a public nuisance and a safety concern.
Councilmember Bill Godwin said the city can be sued if someone is injured by falling debris from the hotel.
“It would be terrible if someone got hurt or killed,” he said. “But after the dust settled on that, (if) we think that we have financial challenges now, we would be sued to the max.”