Ledger Inquirer

Inquirer: The ugly old Meritas Mill will stay ugly for a while

A Concerned Reader who identifies himself only as "V" is tired of looking at a perpetual eyesore over in the North Highland area.

"OK! I finally succumbed to the invitation to report something that needs attention," V wrote. (What took you so long?)

"Well, has anyone taken a look at the old Meritas Mill that has been dilapidated for years?" he continued. "I'm sure you know the location. I don't understand how our city officials can condemn and tear down a house, that in many cases is in much better condition, in less than a year. Just saying

"Respectfully submitted,

"V"

I wonder if V's wife's name is Kay.

Well, I can't turn my back on an issue that is submitted respectfully, so I headed over to North Highland, where eyesores are in no short supply, bless its heart.

Ol' V wasn't lying. Many of the mill's windows are broken, the roof appears to have collapsed or been removed, and most of the innards have been hauled out into the massive yard, where they are sitting among the weeds.

No one will be turning this old mill into loft apartments anytime soon.

The property is locally owned, according to city tax records. The listed fair market value is about $920,000 and it reportedly generates about $15,000 in property taxes every year.

It's a big building but not huge by mill standards. It's about 124,000 square feet, which, at its current value, works out to a thrifty $7.50 per square foot.

That said, it's ugly as my cousin Earl.

I called Deputy City Manager David Arrington, who is currently riding herd on the Inspections and Code Department after the departure of its former director. Arrington said there are currently no complaints against the property on file with the department, but that doesn't mean it's not on the city's radar.

Arrington said commercial property is subject to the same rules and regulations as residential property. But this property owner is in the process of removing everything from the mill that can be salvaged, so as long as that's the case, the city wouldn't be likely to write it up.

"They're making slow progress," Arrington said. "An inspector goes by there periodically to make sure that they're still making progress."

This is not the kind of progress we want to preserve, but we'll just have to live with it for a while.

Sorry about that, V. Tell Kay I said hey.

Update

Alert Readers will recall a column a couple of weeks ago about an overgrown path that runs off Martin Luther King Boulevard to the pedestrian bridge, which was being renovated.

Arrington had assured me that as soon as the bridge was reopened, the pathway would be cleared -- and I'm glad to report that it was.

-- Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-5870 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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