Council takes over TFI Plant

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 05:34 PM

Thomasville City Council has given the owner of a dilapidated property his final warning.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the Thomasville City Council adopted an ordinance that gives Jeff Schwarz, owner of the vacant Thomasville Furniture Industries building on Fisher Ferry Street, 90 days to begin repairs on the structure.
The ordinance gives the city building inspectors the authority to repair, alter, close, improve or demolish the building if it’s not addressed within the time frame set by the council.
At a public hearing before the vote, the council heard from Frank Edmondson, a representative of Schwarz Properties, owned by Schwarz, who asked for more time to repair the property.
“A lot of times, he does get a bad rap for properties such as this. Let it be known for the record his plans are not to let this building continue to crumple down to the ground. We are not going to let any assets of ours do that,” Edmondson said. “On the flip side of that, the funding to bring this building up to code and to make it beautiful for this city is not available right now. Unfortunately, we have to work on properties where we currently have tenants in them.”
Edmondson said Schwarz would like to have sufficient time to repair the property and that Schwarz is a loyal person who will do what he says. He said he wants to try and make the situation work.
“The city does not want to take on this responsibility,” Edmondson said. “We do not want to, either, but it’s our assets, and we plan on doing something about it. I just can’t put a timetable on it. If the city does continue with the condemnation and abatement process, unfortunately, I will advise Mr. Schwarz to file bankruptcy and, like it or not, it will go through bankruptcy. You will end up with a building without being able to put liens on it.”
Councilman Raleigh York said he would like the give Schwarz a chance, and that he is willing to work with the company. In three months, he hopes to see a difference in the property.
“We have heard some talk here on the willingness of the property owner and the willingness of other citizens to see us work together,” York said. “I will speak for myself, I will let the rest speak for themselves, and I am sure they would say, like I, that we are willing to work with them in any way we can, as we have been for two years now. Having said that you have 90 days, that’s three months, that is a lot of good time that you can show us good faith.”
Councilman Neal Grimes said it’s hard to trust a company that continues to not follow through.
“For over two years, we have promises that we have not been able to count on, so why should we trust you now?” Grimes said. “We want to. We want you to fix the building, and we don’t want to have to tear it down. We have not been able to count on anything that you or your representatives have made to date.”
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