Negotiations between the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. and South Broad Baptist Church for the sale of the historic South Broad Fire Station, at the intersection of South Broad Street and Butler Street, have broken down and the agency seems ready to turn its attention to other more pressing issues.
South Broad Baptist Pastor Ricky Studdard said the church membership has been concerned about language in an initial contract that would have held the church responsible for any environmental issues that might have been discovered during work to rehabilitate the building for potential office space and South Rome community use.
“It’s never been about the price, we’re not trying to hold out to get more money for the building,” Studdard said. The pastor told the Rome News-Tribune that the South Rome agency had offered $20,000 for the property. “It’s not doing anybody any good just sitting there like it is,” Studdard said. “On the other hand we don’t want to put ourselves out there where we might be liable for something.”
South Rome Redevelopment Corp. Executive Director Charles Looney said it might take as much as $300,000 to completely rehabilitate the building and restore it to some sort of useful condition. There is evidence of floor rot and some leaks in the roof.
“It’s starting to deteriorate quickly,” Looney said.
The fire station, built in 1927, was added to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Top 10 Places in Peril List for 2017 because of the general condition of the building.
In its press release revealing the Places in Peril list, the Georgia Trust said, “Maintenance issues are beginning to appear, and there is concern that without attention, it will soon fall into disrepair.”
Two years ago, Studdard said the church had at one time, considered a variety of uses for the building, from Sunday School classes to a youth meeting area and even a fellowship facility.
Looney had indicated the old building might have been a good location for community use ranging from GED and ESL classes to other special events.
The negotiations have stalled to the point where Looney said Tuesday his board of directors, during recent strategic planning sessions, had turned its attention to housing, education and wellness efforts that span the entire South Rome community.
“We’re going to try to roll this stuff out later,” Looney said. “The whole community center thing is probably going to the back burner anyway, even if they were willing to sell it to us now.”
The fire station was gifted to the church decades ago after it ceased being used by the fire department.