Local News


Realty suitors woo utility headquarters

By MEGHAN PITTMAN The Brunswick News

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission is continuing a search for a permanent home even though the board is just a month away from being replaced.

During the utility board's meeting Thursday, it heard presentations by representatives for two properties:

* The Old Royal Hotel building on Newcastle Street in downtown Brunswick.

* The Former Coastal Regional Commission office on F Street at the Brunswick waterfront.

The board already owns the former Day's Inn property on Gloucester Street, near the U.S. 17 intersection, which it spent more than $800,000 to acquire and clean up with an intention of constructing a headquarters building.

The five-member board will be replaced by a seven-member board - five residents and two city and county commissioners - in January. Tony Sammons, who has been with the board since its creation, will be among the five citizen members seated next month. The city and county commissioners who will serve on the board in 2013 have not been named.

Glynn County Commissioner Clyde Taylor, who chairs the utility board, says the board is wasting its time listening to property offers.

"I don't see a decision being made by the end of the year, and we're going to have six new members on this board," Taylor said.

The utility is temporarily housed at the old Barnett Bank on Gloucester Street, downtown.

The old Royal Hotel site was represented by Brady Turner, who has said he would cover the cost of renovations and compliance with laws for disability access and building code compliance if the utility would purchase the property for more than $2 million. The utility board estimated that almost $800,000 in renovations would be necessary. It's more than just the building the board should think about, Turner said.

"I think you should think about downtown and helping it," Turner said. "Downtown is dying, and it needs help."

Turner did not elaborate, but several office buildings have been vacated in the downtown area this past year, including the Coastal Bank of Georgia and Coastal Regional Commission. The Coastal Bank of Georgia has since been sold to another bank.

Taylor dismissed the property. "I'm just not sure it would be right for us," he said.

Fred Freyer, an agent with Don Wright and Associates, has offered the Coastal Regional Commission property to the utility for almost $800,000.

Confusion on who owned what on the property kept the utility board from moving forward with even paying to assess the necessary renovations to the property.

"The owner has said to me that the CRC is the title holder and once (the property) sells, the appraised value of the land is given to the city," Freyer said.

The Coastal Regional Commission owns the building, which is on land owned by the city.

The utility board would need to know the details of the title concerning the ownership of the property and the land, Taylor said.

The third option, construction of a new administrative building designed and built to the needs of the utility board, was presented in detail by Robert Ussery, an architect for site plans.

Plans show suitable parking spaces and a little more than an acre to lease or sell at the site of the old Days Inn property.

Plans for the proposed two-story structure, which include office space, a large meeting room, conference rooms and customer service areas, are what the utility needs, Taylor said.

The utility board did not comment on whether it would entertain options at its next meeting, Dec. 20.

The new board, in addition to Sammons, will include Ronnie Perry, Sandy Dean, Don Elliot and George Dupuy. One city commissioner and one county commissioner also will be appointed to the board. The new board's first meeting will be Jan. 3.